One more post on marriage-equality and religious liberty.
Lest my posts today paint me as some great apologist for the Catholic Church, may I turn your attention to my reaction last week to marriage-equality’s defeat in Maine and my disgust with the Church in that battle. My point, quite simply, is that religious liberty is also important – that the two need not trample each other (as many anti-marriage-equality types argue). It’s one of the most common arguments that anti-marriage-equality proponents utilize.
The spin on the D.C. story is that the Church is refusing to provide charitable services if gay marriage is passed there. This is simply not true. It is the city threatening to withdraw its contracts from Catholic Charities if the Church doesn’t change to meet the new rules. Do I think the Church should change? Yes. Do I think they will? No. Do I think it’s up to the D.C. City Counsel to make them change? No. But it certainly is their right to not fund Catholic Charities if they don’t change to meet those rules.
There’s lots of spin to all of this. If people want to be upset by the Church not accepting gay marriage – fine. But as I’ve said before, people can’t have it both ways. They can’t also be mad that the Church won’t get contracts to continue its management of D.C. charities. Indeed, if not for the spin, people would be happy that more ties between church and state have been severed. Obviously any attempt to mix the two comes with too much baggage for all parties involved to be happy. Unfortunately, some good things come from it as well – namely, many poor people are helped through these charities. And they will be the ones to suffer the effects of these ideological battles.
Also, to those who think that this particular Diocese should simply adopt non-homophobic policies, I think that misses the larger structural problem. The Catholic Church doesn’t change its policies to meet the needs of every city counsel across the globe. It’s a very large institution and it simply doesn’t operate that way. Whether or not you feel that they’re wrong really has no bearing on this case. One Catholic diocese can’t just up and rewrite Church positions on these matters. They’re part of a hierarchy and they follow orders.
Freddie’s right of course. I believe the Church and other groups that oppose gay marriage are wrong and that someday they’ll look back on all of this with the same shame opponents (and their ancestors) of racial equality look back on the days of segregation. But that doesn’t mean we approach each battle in this war with the attitude that so long as marriage equality is reached, all other considerations are negligible. If you want a much harder path going forward, then by all means give your opponents reason to believe that their religious liberty actually will be infringed upon. Most of the time that argument is a straw man. But not always. Giving it credence is probably not a good long-term strategy.
I could be wrong.