Support Gay Marriage, Support Religious Freedom

Jason Kuznicki points us to this excellent video…

YouTube Poster

As Jason says:

Couldn’t have said it better. If you take taxpayers’ money, you should have to treat all taxpayers equally. If you’re privately funded, you should be free to do as you like. Want to discriminate? Fine. Just don’t take tax money to do it.

And… if you support discrimination laws that touch purely private interactions and that benefit yourself, then you can hardly complain when others want those same benefits for their groups, too.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

43 thoughts

  1. Agreed in principle, but the state has its tendrils in everything. Also, the state forbids discrimination in certain private matters, even when no state money is involved.

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  3. Suppose the government were to say: if you have an abortion, you become ineligible for Social Security benefits. Does anybody want to argue that this wouldn't be a violation of reproductive freedom? Suppose the government took away a student's federally funded scholarship because he attended an anti-war protest. Does anyone want to argue that this wouldn't be a violation of political freedom?

  4. No shit. By the logic advanced in this video, if the government collects taxes from ax-murderers, it would be unjust to discriminate against ax-murderers by doing something bigoted like, say, making their activities illegal and locking them up. Jails are built with tax dollars, after all. It wouldn't be fair to use somebody's tax dollars to discriminate against them!

  5. I'm not completely convinced that religious institutions wouldn't be required to provide services for gay couples. The Unruh Civil Rights Act states that no business can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Apparently, this includes non-profits :…(and wedding ordination is often a “business” owned by a clergy-member, anyway).Citing Unruh, the State Supreme Court ruled for the plaintiff in Benitez vs. North Coast Women's Care Medical Group, when a lesbian woman was denied IVF tx by a doctor, who refused to perform the procedure for religious reasons. And on the federal level, there was that whole e-harmony thing. I strongly support gay marriage. Gay people should be treated as equals not just on a legal level, but on a cultural level. I am happy when any person enjoys happiness by finding the person he or she loves. But the idea that religious people have nothing to fear about their religious institutions being sued and coerced is disingenous, considering the enormous number of successful lawsuits filed against private individuals, businesses, and non-profits, relating to similar issues.

  6. I agreed with almost the entire video. But near the end, the speaker implies that current law prohibits churches from marrying gay couples. As far as I know, that's not true. It simply does not grant legal recognition to those marriages. But I'm pretty sure a church can perform a gay marriage ceremony in all 50 states.

  7. I haven't watched the video. And I support gay marriage. But I do note one mistake in the comment. Marriage is not a purely private interaction. Marriage is fundamentally a public matter. Marriage is the way that society identifies whether or not a family link has been forged between two people (or more generally, more people) even if they are not blood relatives. The whole point in getting married is to make that link clear to society. And traditionally the reason that society cared was that it was a way of determining which man was responsible for which children and thus bringing social pressure to bear on men who shirked their fatherly duties. Furthermore in every modern society that I know about, who the state recognises as married or not married has legal implications. Examples include inheritance laws and next-of-kin laws. Take a case where a person is in a coma, their flatmate claims that they are married, the parents say no marriage ever took place, and the flatmate and the parents differ sharply about the best course of medical treatment. This is not a purely private interaction – the staff at the hospital need to know whose instructions to follow.Or take a case where a rich old man hires a live-in housekeeper. After his death of natural causes, the housekeeper claims that they were secretly married and as such she is entitled to the wife's share of his property. His children say this is nuts, no such marriage ever took place. The decision by the courts as to whether the marriage existed is not a purely private interaction, the executor of the estate needs to know where the assets should go (although there's a certain risk that the decision will be moot if all the inheritance will go on legal costs). Furthermore, legal rights are often given to those who are married, such as tax laws (for example, under NZ law on the one hand you can transfer any amount of money you like to your spouse without paying gift duty, on the other hand if you hire your spouse to work for your company for a ridiculously large amount of money which saves you a lot on taxes IRD will investigate in the way they would for a close blood relative but not for a stranger). Immigration laws also differ. These laws could be changed of course, but at the moment their existance means that marriage is not merely private.Look at it another way, if marriage is purely a private interaction, why would anyone care whether the state legally recognised same-sex marriages?

  8. And by the logic of zing!'s comment, the taxpayer money that the government gives to axe murderers to fund their activities should have no strings attached. Bravo!

  9. Talk about dishonesty. Churches that want to perform gay marriages are not having their religious freedom infringed on by current law. 1. The current law doesn't a church from performing a marriage ceremony for gay couples. Churches can perform any ceremonies they want. They can use any words at those ceremonies that they want (e.g. “marriage”). They can sign any papers at those ceremonies. HOWEVER, whatever is done at those ceremonies will not be recognized by the state. No church is being told what it can or cannot do. Its just that the state will legally recognize what was perfomred there.The general argument seems to be “but the religious convictions of these liberal churches' require them to perform x and the state won't allow them to perform x, so the church's religious freedom is being infringed on.” The church can perform x but religious freedom doesn't require the government to recognize the results of the ceremony. The government doesn't recognize the results of a Bar Mitzvah. It doesn't count the 13 year-old Jewish boy as a legal adult just because his religion says he is an adult. Is this failure to legally recognize the results of a Bar Mitzvah discriminatory? The government doesn't recognize my baptism (and the official church certificate signed by the pastor and elders). So, what? Religious freedom doesn't demand that religious ceremonies be officially recognized by government.2. Further, it is obvious that it is not RELIGIOUS discrimination that prevents liberal churches having gay marriage performed at their church recognized by the government. If such ceremonies are performed by a judge, a ship's captain, or some other non-religious official who can perform marriage ceremonies, the results of those ceremonies will also not be recognize. So it is not that religious practice and belief that is being focused on an singled out for discrimination. It is gay marriage–whether performed by a priest, judge, or captain. It also doesn't discriminate between churches. ANY church, liberal or conservative, that performs gay marriage will not have the results of that ceremony legally recognized. ANY church that performs a heterosexual ceremony, liberal or conservative, will have the ceremony be legally recognized. The argument that the fact that gay couples cannot be legally married amounts to religious discrimination is a BIG stretch at best. Nice try, though!

  10. Interesting thoughts here, but mostly wrong.”Suppose the government took away a student's federally funded scholarship because he attended an anti-war protest. Does anyone want to argue that this wouldn't be a violation of political freedom?”This analogy fails. If the the student did something ILLEGAL at the anti-war protest, then he might indeed lost his federal scholarship. Ocean Grove promised to abide by anti-discrimination laws when it applied for a property tax exemption on the basis that the pavilion was open to the public. (IMPORTANT: The tax exemption was not based on religious grounds.) When it failed to abide by those anti-discrimination laws, it lost its tax-exempt status. Similarly with the federal funds: why is the government giving taxpayer money to ANY organization that is breaking the law.?BTW, one thing not mentioned in the video: Ocean Grove has two chapels that don't marry same-sex couples, and it hasn't lost the exemption on those. Why not? Because those are church facilities, and the exemption on those is based on religious grounds, not on the promised that they're open to the general public.And Jim, the video doesn't make the point that “the fact that gay couples cannot be legally married amounts to religious discrimination.” Rather it says that it's a violation of religious freedom. Opponents of gay marriage go to great lengths to claim that marriage is primarily a religious institution. If so, then not permitting churches to MARRY gay couples — i.e., permitting them to perform civil unions or commitment ceremonies but not MARRIAGE ceremonies — is a restriction of their religious freedom.

  11. Could never understand the religious position on this issue. Do the churches really want the government to define a sacrament, a sacred right of their faith?

  12. I think the whole “strings attached to govt money” issue is going to be one of the primary debate points over the next 10 years — you can already see it in the bailout stuff, and we're going to have the debate over healthcare pretty quickly as well. It will only be exacerbated as we find less amounts of money to spread around — we'll have to find ways to ration it, and this is how it's going to happen: coming up withe rules that exclude people from receiving them.To what extent do governments have a right to regulate the actions of those who receive benefits? Which benefits count as ones that should impose these regulations?

  13. “Want to discriminate? Fine. Just don’t take tax money to do it.”Not true . . . landlords that discriminate face substantial fines and penalties, and landlords aren't taking any federal money. Same goes for employers and businesses. Wilkinson really should know this . . .

  14. Religious freedom certainly is that. One's religious belief is not enforced, and one can choose which one and to what degree of practice. The most hypocritical aspect fomented by those who are religious, is insisting that being gay is a choice and that it has no biological component.Yet, one's religious background is protected under the Constitution. If religious people insist that mutability is ground to exclude someone from Constitutional protection, then they should be the first in line to relinquish their 'religious freedom' as Constitutionally protected as such. Go home and leave everyone else alone. However, if there is a reliance on 'man's laws' for the protection of religious freedom, then there also should be respect in the law for gay people who are not the cultural invention religion is. The anti gay, despite their religious beliefs, benefit from gay people in society. And as gay people are engaged in the responsibilities of citizenship, that is not a matter of choice either that religious belief is. Why those who are religious feel there is no option to COEXIST on the same legal footing with gay people makes no sense at all. It's possible to do it with other people who are different.Who have other religious choices and so on. Being mindful of other religious abuse in our society and support of terrible laws that stripped so many of their human rights here in America is why caution must be paid to using religious grounds to do it to another group of people for being different also.

  15. Liz – New York – University of Rochester grad with a BA in history. Attending law school at Syracuse University. Politics, fitness, Calvin and Hobbes, dudes.
    Liz says:

    Doesn't that completely ignore the difference between gay marriage (contract between two consenting adults) and the non-consensual nature of, say, killing somebody?

  16. Yes, it does, because that's entirely superfluous to the point. The claim was essentially that if gay people pay taxes, they're entitled to use public property that their taxes support however they see fit.If you'd rather I use an example that doesn't involve any non-consensual behavior, try this one: my taxes pay for the streets. Does that entitle me to go take a dump in the middle of the road? Other taxpayers use the road their purposes, why can't I use them for mine?

  17. Actually, wouldn't the more accurate example be:My taxes pay for the streets. Does that entitle me to use the streets in the same way that everyone else is permitted to use the streets?The problem with your example is that it assumes the argument is that because one pays taxes one should be able to use public property in any way they see fit. That is not the argument. The argument is that if one uses taxes one should be able to use public property in the same manner that others use public property.The dispute boils down to, as always, whether the ability to get married to a member of the same sex is the same as the ability to marry someone of the opposite sex. Above you have equated gay marriage with “taking a dump in the streets” and “axe murder.” Liz's point is (I take it) that she doesn't think equating gay marriage with “axe murder” is appropriate but instead that it is much closer in nature to heterosexual marriage.In short, she's wondering whether your assumptions that gay marriage is fundamentally different than heterosexual beg the question. (Much as you and others are wondering whether the original video's assumptions beg the question.)

  18. Liz – New York – University of Rochester grad with a BA in history. Attending law school at Syracuse University. Politics, fitness, Calvin and Hobbes, dudes.
    Liz says:

    Pretty much, yeah.

  19. No one forces the catholics to marry divorced couples. Indeed, the Catholics live with a state in which divorced couples can civilly remarry, even though they consider those marriages sacramentally invalid. This is a non-starter.

  20. “If you’re privately funded, you should be free to do as you like. Want to discriminate? Fine. Just don’t take tax money to do it.”Neo-liberalist bullshit. As long as you're not public, you can be totally unaccountable and exploit whole societies as much as you want, as long as you don't “take tax money” (but you can lobby for new laws, secretely contract with foreign governments, buy slave labour, and so on).”And… if you support discrimination laws that touch purely private interactions and that benefit yourself, then you can hardly complain when others want those same benefits for their groups, too.”Hey, what about the discrimination made against unmarried people by marriage laws? How come gays shut up about that? Could it be because they want the money pot?

  21. Sanchez mentioned on his blog a while back that a marijuana legalization case was informally thought of as out of bounds on the college debate circuit, because there were no reasonable arguments against it. I wonder if gay marriage has assumed the same status in today's debate circuit.

  22. If gay couples become a recognized and protected class, then any organization that fails to recognize the couple will be breaking a law, whether it's a religious organization or a business or a landlord. Of course, I support repealing all discrimination laws . . . “”Want to discriminate? Fine” . . . This is definitely a starter . . .

  23. Oh my god, can I marry this guy? You know, once we're finally allowed? He's dreamy. And so on point. God the best was the one about the photographer – can you imagine, refusing service to an evangelical couple because you disagree with their religious beliefs? Oh my god Limbaugh would rain fire down upon your house.

  24. Actually, the stories of discrimination against evangelicals include some that are worse then that.The worst that I can remember was a case of an evangelical being fired for “creating a hostile work environment” by ending an email with “God Bless”. The email was sent to the gay rights activist in the office asking to be taken off the list of people told about coming out parties. When she sued for religious discrimination she lost the case, despite the defense never showing for the mediation sessions. Her case worker dropped the case, and had posters on the walls in support of gay rights.I don't know how much of this story is true, nor do I know what details were dropped. On the other hand, with a story like this making the rounds for some years resistance from evangelicals starts making sense.There are other stories, one from Canada closely parallels the case of the photographer that the video glossed over. A printer was sued for refusing to print posters supporting gay rights, which cause he actively opposed.

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  26. “Just don’t take tax money to do it.”BS. That only applies if those people/groups don't pay tax money. If a person or a group pays taxes, then they have every right to seek some of that money back.If you think it's ok to have your hands in my pants and in my wallet, then I really don't care if people are in your bedroom or in your marriage.Gay libertarians I have no problem with. Gay democrats? I hope they get hassled by the government on a consistent basis. The golden rule applies. You think it's ok to interfere in my life? Thus, it's ok to interfere in yours.

  27. I do support the right of every American to marry, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples. I believe that marriage and other civil rights …

  28. “Just don’t take tax money to do it.”can't help but agree. Let the groups concerned and supportive to gay marriage handle the bills, not everyone's tax money. 🙂

  29. There's more serious concerns to the modern life than wasting tax money on pursuing and preventing the legalization of gay marriage. I say let them be, they deserve the right to love, be loved and be happy. Why not spend all that money on sex education to help steer the youth and sexually ignorant adults away from its hazards.

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