Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

Gay marriage debate is changing how Americans settle differences

Compiled by Matthew Brown, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Fri, March 7 10:45 a.m. MST

 Former Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. E.W. Jackson, front center, gestures as he speaks to the media during a demonstration outside Federal Court in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. Jackson spoke in favor of the law banning same sex marriage.

Former Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. E.W. Jackson, front center, gestures as he speaks to the media during a demonstration outside Federal Court in Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. Jackson spoke in favor of the law banning same sex marriage.

(Steve Helber, Associated Press)

As the courts, state lawmakers and the general public move toward accepting and legalizing same-sex marriage, another historic shift is taking place away from trying to balance the interests between a minority of religious objectors and the majority of Americans, according to two conservative commentators.

A Washington Post/ABC poll released this week found a record-high 59 percent of Americans say they support same-sex marriage, while 50 percent said gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

"In a Post-ABC poll in March 2004, 38 percent said same-sex marriage should be legal, while 59 percent said it should not, the same percentage now in favor of allowing gays to marry," the Post reported.

That "dramatic shift in public opinion, and a series of legal victories, seem to be melting the resistance of the Republican Party — and prompting conservatives to find new ways of framing the question," wrote Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz.

Among them is New York Times columnist Ross Douthat who conceded that gay marriage will soon be legalized throughout the United States, but wondered how that will affect "a substantial minority of Americans, most of them religious, still committed to the older view of marriage."

He said one possibility is that this minority will fade into the background, allowed to practice their belief with legal protections for the few individuals and businesses that believe accommodating a gay marriage violates their religious beliefs.

The nation has a history of carving out exemptions for religious objectors to military service, vaccinations, union dues, school curriculum, abortion — to name a few.

But Douthat and other observers note that the recent veto of a bill in Arizona that would have created such protections in instances of accommodating same-sex marriages signaled those days of giving space to those who don't want to follow the majority may be over.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, described the action taken in Arizona as "a major shift in terms of the negotiation of liberties in our society."

"What we're talking about here is something entirely new in human history," Mohler said, according to a report in the Baptist Press. "In other words, the demand of people that their erotic and romantic activities, their orientations and relationships be sanctioned is now in our society on the ascent. It is now considered dominant even when it runs into collision with one of the most basic freedoms the United States was founded upon, and that is religious liberty."

But Douthat, who in a column last summer urged religious conservatives to start negotiating a surrender in the gay marriage battle or risk walking away with no protections, said his fellow Christians had it coming to them.

"Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places)," he wrote. "So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status — this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution."

Email: mbrown@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @deseretbrown

Recommended
1. Ohio-LDS
NE, OH,
March 7, 2014

Ross Douthat is an insightful columnist. I appreciate his attempt to bring sanity to our public conversation on this topic. That said, the real challenge for religious groups will not come from external societal pressure. Eventually, the RNC will go mute and the media will move on to other topics. How quickly that happens depends largely on when (not if) the Supreme Court holds that state marriage laws cannot discriminate on the basis of sex (i.e., if a man can marry a woman, a woman must be allowed to marry a woman).

The real challenge will come within religious communities as they attempt to hold on to a rising generation that supports gay marriage. For LDS, the pressure will come from the young woman who wants to serve a mission but fully supports her gay married brother. Or from the young men's leader who is happy to serve but skips over lessons on homosexuality because he thinks the lessons are wrong. Or the bishop who declines to discipline a married gay couple in his ward. That's where the real pressure will come from.

May you live in interesting times.

2. liberty or ...?
Ogden, UT,
March 7, 2014

Wow I guess Gods commandments are now at the dictates of mobocracy and corrupt societies. which one should make legal next how about murder, theft,covetousnesss (Oh I'm sorry thats called social justice and pay your fair share while I don't mentality I believe its also called socialism)? The cries of past civilizations who decided freedom to do something means that it is all right means God must bow to our will now. These so called religionists and secularists who like to cherry pick the scriptures and freedoms they want but ignore the points they don't remind me of a saying. something about they despise those who do good,call good evil and evil good. every man walketh in his own way, after the image of his own god which likeness is in the image of the world. They say histiry repeats itself. Hopefully we'll wake up before we enter and ignorant secularist dark ages next

3. Ranch
Here, UT,
March 7, 2014

Religious conservatives had NO PROBLEM violating the civil rights of LGBT American by passing laws preventing marriage. Now they whine that we're not going to give them a pass to continue their bigotry as a business operator?

Give me a break!

4. bandersen
Saint George, UT,
March 7, 2014

The misery index just shot up another notch!

5. slcdenizen
t-ville, UT,
March 7, 2014

"...prompting conservatives to find new ways of framing the question"

This seems to be the primary concern of conservatives in lieu of generating new ideas for today's challenges and legislating accordingly.