For all their whining about how wrong the Supreme Court was to say that two people of the same sex can get married, opponents of the ruling seem to have forgotten what religious and personal freedom really means in this country. They cry about the Constitution being ignored, thrown out, or misinterpreted, and also that the Constitution says nothing about marriage. Of course it doesn’t, because when America was founded the government had nothing to do with marriage–it wasn’t until the 20th century that they instituted marriage licenses, at least partly for the purpose of preventing mixed-race marriages.
In modern times, of course, conservatives who want to prevent LGBT people from marrying who they love have used the government’s involvement in marriage in the same way. Doing this is as “unconstitutional” as preventing people of different races from marrying.
To make this as simple as possible, let’s examine the cases of two individual people, and how their lives might be affected by the freedoms laid down by the Constitution and other founding documents of America.
The first person is Bob, a fundamentalist Christian pastor in Tennessee who thinks gay people are disgusting and shouldn’t be allowed to marry. His religious freedom allows him to openly share his beliefs, and even act on them in various ways. He is free to make it clear that gay Christians are not welcome at his church, free to turn them away from the community meals his church serves for poor people, and free to publish how much he hates them. In fact, he also refuses to perform marriage ceremonies for mixed-race couples, believing that such unions are prohibited by the Bible.
Bob has a decent salary drawn from the tithes of his loyal church minions, and nobody has tried to force him to perform a marriage ceremony he doesn’t want to perform; they would be unsuccessful because religious freedom allows him to live according to what he believes, and as a pastor he enjoys the benefits of some special religious freedom laws. He is happily married to a woman, and faces no threat of fines, imprisonment, or other legal action in retaliation for exercising his right to state his beliefs and act on them.
The second person is Walter, a young gay man who is very much in love with a cute guy he met at college. Walter is a Christian, and believes marriage is important. In fact, he would like to save intimacy for marriage, like many of his straight Christian friends. But unlike Bob, he doesn’t think the Bible actually condemns consensual same-sex relationships.
Walter tries to attend Bob’s church, but is met with condemnation and asked to leave. His boyfriend gets seriously injured and goes to the hospital, but they aren’t “family” so Walter isn’t allowed to stay with him. When Walter’s Christian boss finds out he’s gay, he loses his job. He goes to a local charity for help, but it’s run by Christians who “disagree with his lifestyle”, and again he is turned away. This is what life can be like for gay people in very religious environments, such as Mississippi.
If we put Bob in Walter’s place, he would complain loudly of being discriminated against (rightfully so), and probably whine about being persecuted. Even though Bob isn’t treated unfairly for being Christian, he already cries about being persecuted, simply because Walter wants to marry the person he loves. The main difference, though, is that it would be illegal to fire Bob for simply being a Christian. Unfortunately, it is still legal in many states to fire someone for simply being gay.
Walter wants the right to follow his beliefs about marriage. Bob already has the right to follow his beliefs about marriage. Discrimination against Walter is wrong for the same reason it would be wrong to discriminate against Bob. If it is “constitutional” to allow Bob to live and act according to his beliefs, it is also “constitutional” to allow Walter to live and act according to his. From an objective viewpoint (i.e. setting aside the fact that Bob thinks he knows the absolute truth), the only real difference between them is that they have opposite opinions on a few issues.
The Supreme Court finally did the right thing, and declared that LGBT people have the right to live according to their beliefs and marry who they love, the same freedom that straight Christians have had for centuries.
If you are upset by the fact that LGBT people now have the right to get married, get over it and move on with your life. The only way this ruling might affect you is if you decide to antagonize people rather than letting them live their personal lives in peace. It’s your choice if you want to live in peace or continue a pointless war that might end up hurting you.