GASPARD: May public officials refuse same-sex ceremonies?Posted by Brett Gaspard on June 30, 2015
Any logical person acknowledges that recognition of an act, principle, decree, law or set of beliefs does not necessarily constitute acceptance or participation. Likewise, most Americans hold in the highest of esteem their individual and collective rights to free speech, peaceable assemblies, redress of grievances, freedom of the press, and religious liberty – and therefore readily agree that demands by public authorities to participate in a forced contract, ceremony or act is tantamount to tyranny.
Thus conceding, it seems evident that any court or government which seeks to compel a person to codify a ceremony, participate in a civil action, or issue a license against their deepest held religious beliefs – whether such individual serves as an public officer or private citizen – would be a flagrant violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and represents an unprecedented assault on religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and the Bill of Rights; the reaction to which should immediately call for rejection of the directive, refusal to participate in the compelled ceremony, and open redress of grievance against any police action that may result in the unconstitutional detainment or arrest of an American citizen.
Justice Kennedy, writing for the one vote majority decision in the Opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States issued on June 26, 2015 relative to homosexual marriage, stated that “there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.” Clearly, the opinion does not and should not compel a citizen – even in a public capacity – to participate in an act that would violate their First Amendment rights.
Still, one must be clear that the Court may not of its own authority issue laws, enact legislation or enforce its dictates, as those roles fully belong to other branches of the government, or are reserved to the States. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the People to resist any and all autocratic directives that would seek to encumber this delicate separation of powers, especially when the usurpation violates the most basic and fundamental right to religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
It should be abundantly understood that the Supreme Court – although in its Opinion declares there is no lawful basis for States to refuse recognition of same-sex marriage – may still not direct public officials, or any person whatsoever, to perform ceremonies against their will, as any attempt to do so would represent a clear violation of the First Amendment and Bill of Rights. This issue is separate from legal recognition.
Nevertheless, in spite of these well-reasoned and historically grounded explanations, there is little doubt that supporters of homosexual unions will seek to force others – especially public officials – to perform ceremonies on their behalf in opposition to the very principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience that gay and lesbian couples have otherwise advocated.
Aside from religious liberty, while many contend that homosexuals have an equal claim to the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman – and indeed five unelected justices have now said as much – the historic definition, codification and scientific observation of traditional marriage and its efficacy are undeniable. Hence, the contemplative antagonist would note the impossibility of natural procreation between same-sex partners, and rightfully proclaim that changing the definition of marriage is inconsistent with the design of nature, for which scientific observation confirms.
Ultimately, it would be reasonable to concede that two individuals may enter into a contract for any legal purpose, including a civil union. And, by the changing opinions and social constructs of modern society, it is evident why two people of the same sex may wish to memorialize their bonds. However, the push to change the definition of marriage and recent ruling to force recognition of the same represents a radical departure from history. Accordingly, if demands for those who object to participating in acts that codify the new definition against deeply rooted religious beliefs hold, social revolt should not be a surprise.
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