A big topic in the news of late is the Arizona bill (passed by the legislature, and currently awaiting signing or veto by the governor) which would effectively allow anyone to refuse service to anyone for religious reasons. There is a lot of legalese in the text of the law, but the basic upshot of it (and the source of the controversy) is that if there’s a same-sex wedding, and they want to hire someone to, say, bake the cake or take pictures, or perform the service, a person or company whose religous beliefs prohibit same-sex marriage would be allowed to turn down the opportunity. It essentially says that if your church doesn’t like it, you’re not required to go along with it at your business.
On one side of this argument is the observation that this essentially sanctions discrimination, and undoes decades of civil rights legislation. On the other side of the argument, people are upset that businesses and business people are getting sued for “standing for their beliefs”. They are frustrated that the government, and the laws it enforces, are requiring them to do things they believe are against their beliefs and principles.
It doesn’t even have to be against gays. If someone’s Church doesn’t accept the possibility of life on other planets, according to this law, they shouldn’t be required to let aliens in their store.
Add to that this suit being brought against a Church in the UK, and the plot gets even a bit thicker. The gay couple is suing because the Church won’t marry them. Even though it’s happening “over there”, many in America are watching with interest because it could indicate a trend or precedent.
I’m a bit befuddled by it all. I don’t want to legalize discrimination and prejudice, either, but I also support someone’s right to believe what they want and to act on that belief.
This is a situation where we may actually see the colliding of words, the immovable object being hit by the irresistible force. These two viewpoints are completely at odds with each other. The gays want to get married, and there are many who don’t want to serve them. Should they be forced to serve? Or should the gays be forced to look elsewhere for services? What if the services aren’t available elsewhere, or if there are other factors in the situation?
This is why I think the LDS Church fought so strongly against same-sex marriage in California, Hawaii, and other states: the fear that, at some point, the Church would sued and forced to solemnize same-sex marriages in the temple. I think that without that spectre looming over their heads, the Brethren of the Church would have been much more accepting of the concept.
Honestly, I’m not sure what the answer is. But, it’s something that I’ll be watching very closely.
Mark has a lifelong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church). Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his Dutch Oven blog.