Religious liberty and the future of marriage

The Obama administration made the incoherent declaration last week that it will no longer defend in court a federal law it must enforce. And thus the Justice Department signaled the likelihood that injustices may lie on the landscape for a host of issues.

Starting with religious liberty and marriage law.

Robert P. George, perhaps the nation’s top Catholic scholar on marriage, described [U.S. Attorney General Eric] Holder’s defense of the administration’s position as “extremely worrying.”

He said Holder’s statement was “dripping with animus” against people who believe that marriage is “the conjugal union of a husband and wife.”

“He treats that belief as if it were a mere prejudice, as though it is motivated by a desire to cause harm to people,” George told CNA Feb. 24. “Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a legitimate moral belief that has informed our law throughout history.”

The statement suggests to George the possibility that the Justice Department will “abuse its authority to suppress the religious liberty of people who dissent.”

“It raises the concern that the Justice Department will treat believing Christians, Jews, Muslims and others as though they are the equivalent of racists,” he warned…

George believes it is “imperative” for religious believers and those who support the traditional definition of marriage to defend their religious liberty. Believers should make clear to the Justice Department that they intend to fight any effort to restrict their liberty and their rights of conscience.

He said recognizing marriage as only between one man and one woman is “absolutely not” discriminatory in terms of constitutional law. He cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, a landmark 2003 case that declared laws against homosexual acts to be unconstitutional. That ruling, George said, has “no implications whatsoever for marriage.”

As Prof. George has pointed out to me on radio, emphatically, in 31 out of 31 times this issue has been put before the electorate in a vote, American citizens have upheld the traditional definition of marriage.

For George, these defeats for advocates of same-sex “marriage” explain why they are trying to prevent the issue from being decided in an election.

“If they really thought that the people were going their way… they would be out there ahead of us trying to get the issue on the ballot.”