By Tim Wildmon
A few weeks ago managers inside the United States Justice Department received a memo titled: “LGBT Inclusion at Work: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Managers.” It was sent in advance of “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.” I don’t understand the need for a “pride” month based on sexual-behavior but one exists. One of the instructions to the managers cited the need to verbally affirm these lifestyles. It read: “Don’t judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”
This is where this issue is headed in government and perhaps in the private sector. Forced affirmation of other people’s lifestyle choices or lose your job. This leads me to the Supreme Court decision last week regarding homosexual marriage. Before the Supreme Court was the amendment of the California (Prop 8) Constitution which 7 million Californians passed but which was not defended in federal court by the governor of the state and was struck down by one federal judge. The SC said the attorney who argued before them on behalf of the people (since the governor did not) did not have legal standing, thus the lower court’s ruling stood. The bottom line is same-sex marriage is now legal in California, but the ruling did not strike down the other amendments defining marriage as between one man and one women which have passed in over 30 states.
The SC did overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton which defined for federal purposes that marriage was only between one man and one woman.
But the larger issue here is, again, where this all is headed. The political and social agenda of the GLBT movement is now starting to collide with the freedom of religion guaranteed all Americans in the U.S. Constitution. Here are a couple of recent examples of this:
In 2013 in Colorado, two men recently married in Massachusetts filed a discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery – Masterpiece Cakeshop – that refused to make them a wedding cake for their reception. The owner of the bakery cited his Christian beliefs when he refused the couple’s business. The Colorado Attorney General’s office filed a formal complaint on behalf of the couple.
In 2013 in the state of Washington, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a lawsuit against an eastern Washington florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex marriage ceremony.
In response to the lawsuit in Washington, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers posted this on her Facebook page: “I could not [provide the flowers] because of my relationship with Jesus.” She added: “I have hired all walks of people in different circumstances, and had the privilege of working with some very talented people that happen to be gay. I’m sure there are many places you can purchase flowers, if you choose not to purchase them from Arlene’s, because of your beliefs, then I certainly understand.”
Using the power of the government to force private business owners to violate their religious convictions is just a step away from the government telling churches who they can and can’t marry and what they can and cannot teach.
I did many media interviews this week on the Supreme Court’s decisions including National Public Radio, USA Today and the Washington Post. I appreciate these media outlets giving me an opportunity to give our perspective. This issue will be in the public for some time to come, but some court followers do not believe that the justices are eager to take up a case directly challenging the right of states to define marriage for themselves, at least not anytime soon.
Community columnist TIM WILDMON is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.