At the History News Network the legal scholar Robert J. McWhirter calls out the “anti-gay zealots” for their rhetorical tricks, which they use as a cover for their bigotry. Here’s an excerpt from his incisive piece:
At the HNN, Barry Hankins argues that Baptists are coming to the recognition that they may soon be in the same position as Muslim leaders who “acknowledge that their religious practices are at odds with some facets of American law.” The change that would make Baptists at odds with American law: gay marriage. He fears that if the Supreme Court strikes down the gay marriage bans that exist in some states, then the Baptist belief that marriage is between a man and a women would be under threat. First, he is concerned that the Baptists won’t remember their roots when they were outsiders who were willing to be “fined, horsewhipped, and jailed” for their beliefs. But more importantly he fears that their conception of marriage may be in danger through government intervention.
In an effort to protect marriage as they see it, Hankins explains that the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission (CLC) has “urged churches to insert in their bylaws a clause specifically defining biblical marriage.” They fear that they may be forced to allow gay weddings to be held in their churches under anti-discrimination laws. To show that this is not wild paranoia, he points to the loss of tax exempt status at Bob Jones University because they refused to accept students who were inter-racially married.
It is doubtful that Hankins’s nightmare scenario will materialize, but it is within the realm of possibility. However, they would only be forced to comply if they were unwilling to give up their tax exempt status. And the loss of this privilege is not unjust, as Chief Justice Warren Burger explained in the Bob Jones case, “to warrant exemption under § 501(c)(3), an institution must fall within a category specified in that section and must demonstrably serve and be in harmony with the public interest. The institution’s purpose must not be so at odds with the common community conscience as to undermine any public benefit that might otherwise be conferred.”
Maybe Hankins, and Baptists in general, should follow the advice of their Baptist colleague, Bruce T. Gourley, who suggested that they reconsider the separationist principles of the Baptist preacher John Leland. While Gourley acknowledges that “the elimination of preferential tax treatment would likely result in weeping and gnashing of teeth among religious groups,” it would allow them “to address politics from the pulpit.” It would also free them from the burdens of tax exempt status. And it would free taxpayers from supporting religious societies that they are not members of. It’s a win, win!
Jill Lepore examines the complex history of women’s rights as it played out in the courts from Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which ruled Connecticut’s law banning contraception was unconstitutional, to the present. Griswold was decided on the basis of a couple’s right to privacy, rather than a woman’s right to determine her own path in life. Lepore argues that this precedent carried forward in later judicial decisions to the detriment of women’s struggle for full equality as citizens. “There is a lesson in the past fifty years of litigation. When the fight for equal rights for women narrowed to a fight for reproductive rights, defended on the ground of privacy, it weakened. But when the fight for gay rights became a fight for same-sex marriage, asserted on the ground of equality, it got stronger and stronger.” Read her entire argument here:
Alan J. Singer says “no.” In an interview at Education News, Singer told Michael F. Shaughnessy that these four should never have been elected Supreme Court Justices “because Justices swear an oath to defend the United States Constitution as the first law of the land…In decision after decision they placed ideology and personal values above the Constitution and the law. They decided corporations have the same rights as people and then defended the rights of the world’s wealthiest companies over the rights of ordinary people, are still considering undermining a national health insurance plan, and denounce crime and violence while ensuring the maximum distribution of deadly weapons. However they eventually decide on the same-sex marriage issue, I do not trust them.” Neither do I! Read the entire interview here:
Another historian scolds the Supreme Court and Anthony Kennedy in particular: