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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion

Gay marriage may block other freedoms

John Repsold and Ken Ortize Special to The Spokesman-Review

T he Washington State Supreme Court will rule this summer on whether same-sex marriage will become legal in Washington state. Two lower court judges, one in King County and the other in Thurston County, have ruled that the state’s Defense of Marriage Act violates the state constitution.

Of course, the Supreme Court justices will rule to uphold or overturn the lower court decisions based on their reading of the law and the reasonableness of the rulings.

But the Supreme Court also needs to consider two other things.

First, political decisions – and legal decisions – are always based on moral values and those things we hold dear.

Second, judicial and legislative decisions inherently have unintended consequences. If the state Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, the potential consequences are enormous.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas upheld a lower court ruling which said that states cannot outlaw sodomy. In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia argued Lawrence would lead to legalization of same-sex marriage even though the Texas ruling specifically said it would not.

Scalia’s argument was dismissed by the majority of the court for being extremist fear-mongering, yet, several months later, it was the Lawrence case that was a central feature of the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage in that state.

Plaintiffs in the case here in Washington also rely heavily on Lawrence to make their case that our state’s Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

What does that mean?

If “gay marriage” is upheld by the state Supreme Court, the following is very possible:

“Catholic clergy who circulate a Vatican statement opposing gay marriage could face indictment under incitement-to-hatred legislation.

“A preacher could be convicted of a criminal offense for holding up a sign in a town square opposing homosexuality.

“Preachers giving sermons, quoting the Bible, opposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage could be prosecuted for a criminal offense.

“School teachers who make the mistake of writing a politically incorrect letter to the editor of their local newspaper concerning homosexuality could be suspended without pay.

“Advocates of traditional morality, and the newspaper that ran an advertisement paid for by those advocates, could be ordered to pay $1,500 to anyone who objected to the advertisement.

These things already have happened in Canada, Sweden, England and Ireland. Does that matter? In a word, yes. U.S. courts are increasingly looking to overseas judicial rulings and public attitudes to justify their decisions. Even in its Lawrence ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court used precedent from rulings by the European Court of Human Rights involving cases similar to Lawrence in Great Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Cyprus.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “The right the petitioners seek in this case has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom in many other countries.”

Using these precedents and judicial trends, should the state Supreme Court rule in favor of same-sex marriage advocates, every church, pastor and non-profit organization in Spokane and elsewhere in our state that quotes the Bible, preaches or lobbies for maintaining the definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman could be accused of committing a hate crime or inciting hatred, putting their tax-exempt status at the mercy of federal bureaucrats, gay-marriage advocacy attorneys and the courts.

Preachers who refuse to perform same-sex marriages could face criminal “discrimination” charges or give up their right to perform the marriage ceremony. Several Canadian clergy gave up their right to perform marriages after their provincial government gave its blessing to same-sex ceremonies.

Faith-based nursing homes, universities and radio stations will be similarly threatened for exercising their freedom of speech by a tiny minority of advocates and their activist judge friends.

All will be forced to drop their teachings, change their viewpoints and doctrines, or abdicate their beliefs.

Is that what we really want? We don’t think so.

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