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Just a few years ago, if asked about same-sex marriage, it was enough to throw out a Texas-ism like, “You can put your boots in the oven, but that don’t make them biscuits.”

Would-be president Barack Obama thought as much. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” he told an MTV audience in November 2008. “I am not in favor of gay marriage.” Enough said.

Unfortunately, the self-evident argument is no longer argument enough. Millions of unthinking Americans, including most of our thoroughly propagandized children, have discovered the cheap thrill of sacrifice-free self-righteousness.

In the many discussion that will emerge over family dinner tables between now and November, you will need a better comeback than, “You are out of your mother-loving mind.” There are powerful arguments against same-sex marriage, and it will pay to know them.

Yes, the gay marriage movement opens the door to legalized polygamy, but no one east of Provo or south of Dearborn will lose sleep over that. Then, too, the movement threatens the nuclear family, but this threat is not immediate nor easily explained.

The threat, however, to our churches, synagogues and, yes, mosques is imminent, obvious and undeniable. By extension, so, too, is the threat to the United States Constitution, particularly the freedoms of association and of religion enshrined in the First Amendment.

In the way of background, the left has not historically embraced the gay-rights movement. Not at all. Revolutionary Cuba, for instance, routinely imprisoned gays and AIDS victims for the crime of being either or both.

In America, at the time of the now historic 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, the media, the left media especially, thought gay issues a frivolous distraction. The usually insurrection-friendly Village Voice dismissed Stonewall as the “Great Faggot Rebellion.”

Elected Democrats were likewise slow to discover gay rights. In 1978, Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale gave a speech in San Francisco on “human rights” without a passing nod to “gay” anything.

Dismayed by the speech’s drift, a gay onlooker shouted, “When are you going to speak out on gay rights?” Mondale would have none of it. He walked off the stage in a snit, and the state Democratic chairman scolded the gay guy.

Once clever leftist ideologues got a hold of gay rights, however, it morphed from the libertarian to the totalitarian quicker than you could say “Mussolini.”

No longer content to have their lifestyle tolerated, gays activists and their allies were demanding to have their “diversity” celebrated. In researching my 2007 book, “What’s the Matter with California,” I came to understand the consequences of this unspoken transition.

As an Eagle Scout, I was particularly sensitive to California’s expulsion of the Boy Scouts of America from the public square for its refusal to accept gay scoutmasters.

The case that caught my attention involved the bellwether city of Berkeley. City leaders nixed an understanding it had with a local Sea Scout chapter to provide free berthing at the city’s marina. Never mind that the agreement dated back 60 years or that many in this racially diverse troop come from impoverished families.

When the Sea Scouts appealed, just about all the do-gooders in California rushed to the defense, not of the Sea Scouts, but of the city of Berkeley. True to form, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the city’s favor. In California, make no mistake, the Boy Scouts have become pariahs.

In the wake of the Penn State scandals, even the densest of progressives should acknowledge the wisdom of the BSA’s position just on the grounds of risk management and litigation avoidance.

More central to the discussion, though, is the Boy Scout Oath. For a century, young Scouts in this voluntary association have sworn vows to keep themselves “physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

As an explanation of “morally straight,” the official Scout guide clarifies, “You will hold yourself to a high moral standard and be clean in your speech and actions while being faithful to your religious beliefs.”

Most religious organizations see a conflict between “morally straight” and ritualized anal sex, no matter what sex the partner. The Catholic Church, for instance, considers homosexuality a disorder and homosexual acts sinful. If they “love the sinner,” most traditional Christians likewise “hate the sin.”

This is not a problem for gays, at least in America, as they are free to ignore the churches. It will be a huge problem for churches since they cannot easily ignore a government bent on enforcing “marriage equality.”

In 1970, the IRS determined that “private schools with racially discriminatory admissions policies” were not entitled to federal tax exemption. How long will it be, one wonders, before the IRS makes a similar determination about orientation equality and turns Notre Dame into Bob Jones.

Not long. After Rick Santorum made what was conceded to be a “concise, logical” defense of traditional marriage in New Hampshire, a Los Angeles Times editorialist dismissed him as “one of the more well-spoken bigots I’ve heard in a while.”

What is alarming about this comment is just how casually a representative of a major metropolitan newspaper used the word “bigot.” Given this logic, only a “hate group” would assume what that same editorialist called an “absolutist” position on traditional marriage.

Newt Gingrich nailed the essence of the problem in his fiery response to a same sex marriage question at ABC’s New Hampshire debate:

“Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry?”

For those who care, the excellent Showtime series, “The Tudors,” shows what can happen when the state imposes its own artificially contrived values on a traditional faith. The ambitious and the indifferent will yield, the faithful will fight back, and the state, the faith and the people will all suffer mightily. And yes, it can happen here.

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