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DOMA, free association and religious liberty

By Scott Tibbs, July 3, 2013

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. -- Romans 1:26-27

The legal reasoning the Supreme Court laid down in its decision to strike down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited the federal government from recognizing homosexual "marriage" makes it inevitable that the "right" to marry someone of the same sex will eventually be imposed nationwide, and this has serious implications for religious liberty.

Consider the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, facing a discrimination lawsuit for refusing to serve a homosexual couple who wanted a wedding cake. The owner is a Christian and refused to serve them on the grounds that the Bible prohibits homosexual behavior. The owner may face civil sanctions for refusing to take part in something that violates his Christian faith.

That is just an ice cube's portion of the iceberg that is coming as homosexual "marriage" becomes recognized in more states, and eventually federally. Homosexual "marriage" advocates claim there is no threat to religious liberty, primarily because churches will allegedly not be forced to "marry" couples of the same sex. But in order for religious liberty to be real, we cannot confine it only to houses of worship. People of faith must be permitted to exercise their faith in other aspects of their lives beyond what is done on Sunday morning.

This will have implications for employer provided health care coverage and personnel policies. If a Christian business owner does not consider two people of the same sex to be "married" based on his Christian faith, will he be forced to provide the "employee and spouse" or "family" plan regardless? What punishment will he face if he refuses on religious grounds?

Will a Christian business owner be forced to hire homosexuals or face punishment from government for discrimination? Will a Christian who operates a bed and breakfast be forced to violate his beliefs by renting to a same-sex "married" couple?

Freedom of association necessarily includes the freedom not to associate, regardless of whether you agree with it or not. These are not decisions that are appropriate for government to make, regardless of whether we agree with them or not. Freedom means that people can make their choices without being forced to do one or the other by government - and this does not mean that private-sector pressures cannot be used.

It is unfortunate that the SCOTUS majority was so aggressive in its legal reasoning, because that aggressive language opens the door even wider to government intervention in what should be private decisions made by business owners, individuals, families and non-profit charities.

The Indiana General Assembly should move forward as soon as possible with a marriage protection amendment to the state constitution, to slow the tide and stand against the destruction of marriage.