Meanwhile, just a year ago this week, two very powerful state legislators in Connecticut proposed a bill that would have had the government take over the finances of the Catholic Church. (It took a rally drawing thousands of folks to the state capitol to persuade them to withdraw the measure.)
How did we reach the point where powerful people seriously consider such outrageous intrusions on religious liberty? These "shots across the bow" are skirmishes in a larger war between a newly triumphant liberalism and older American values, including pluralism, conscience protection and respect for religious liberty.
If the right to religious liberty -- a right clearly and explicitly established in our U.S. Constitution -- were being supported and enforced equally with other First Amendment rights, traditional faith communities would not be as worried as they are about the coming attempts to misuse government power. Secular liberals are showing a powerful desire to use the power of government to repress faith communities that disagree with their views. They have been enabled by a Supreme Court (led, ironically, by Justice Antonin Scalia) that has thrown up its hands at the difficulties of enforcing religious liberty and ruled that government intrusions imposed on all people are acceptable, even if they substantially interfere with religious practice.
How else can we explain what just happened in the District of Columbia, the nation's capital? The Washington, D.C., city council chose to pass a gay marriage bill, and then chose to try to block the right of ordinary D.C. citizens to exercise their charter-given right to put actions of the city council to a vote. But that's not the worst of self-righteous zealotry among entrenched local politicians.
The Catholic Church is an outsize provider of social services in D.C., with a well-deserved reputation as a valuable partner in providing a vast array of caring services to the most vulnerable citizens of the district.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.