Christopher B. Shank: Law would force gay beliefs on others

November 04, 2012|By CHRISTOPHER B. SHANK

Proponents for same-sex marriage have erroneously spun the narrative that approving this drastic change won’t materially impact society beyond expanding the pool of eligible participants.  The truth is this ballot question vastly impacts areas far beyond same sex nuptials. 

Religious institutions, businesses, and people with religious values opposing same sex marriage will be coerced into accepting gay marriage and its benefits, or face the threat of litigation and state sanctions should the referendum pass.  Examples from throughout the nation demonstrate this is a viable threat. 

In 2008, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found Elaine Photography guilty of discrimination for simply refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. The owner appealed, claiming that forcing the business to photograph the ceremony against her moral objections violated her federal and state rights. This business owner simply asked that a same-sex couple seek another photographer to document their ceremony.  Her religious values were in irreconcilable conflict with this couple’s request, yet the state of New Mexico gave her no choice but to violate her conscience.   

In Ocean Grove, N.J., a Methodist organization that owns pavilion property on a boardwalk lost its tax-exempt status because a state bureaucrat ruled it no longer met the requirements as a place open to all members of the public. The organization, in consideration of its biblical worldview, would not allow gay civil union ceremonies to take place on its property. 

Just weeks ago, a Gallaudet University employee was placed on leave for just signing the petition to put the same-sex marriage law on the ballot here in Maryland. Her superiors punished her for simply exercising her First Amendment rights in signing a petition. Can American citizens no longer even disagree with their government without placing their employment in jeopardy?

In Kansas, the Hutchinson City Council is considering adding sexual orientation and gender identity to classes already protected in their human relations code. The Hutchinson Human Relations Commission has claimed that churches who rent out their buildings to the general public would not be allowed to deny the use of their facility to a same-sex couple who want to use the building for a wedding.   

In other cases throughout the nation, groups such as the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and Yeshiva University have all been threatened or sanctioned for not supporting same-sex marriage and its benefits. 

As National Review columnist Anthony Daniels writes, causes such as these start out with humane talk about rights and equality but end up as “bullying or morally, intellectually, and emotionally intimidatory.”   

Extrapolating these current trends, one can reasonably assume it won’t be long before advocates start to threaten churches who won’t offer gay marriages. Currently they are fully utilizing the machinery of the state to coerce “non-believers,” all in the name of “tolerance” of course.     

Before believing the claims that churches are protected in Maryland, one should examine the national record and where these trends are taking us.  Increased hostility to people of conscience and religious institutions will surely result in Maryland should this ballot question pass.  Marylanders concerned about protecting our state’s proud record on religious tolerance would be advised to think twice about this ballot question and to vote no on question six.

Christopher B. Shank is a Maryland state senator representing District 2.

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