As the campaign to legalize same-sex civil marriage gains momentum across the country, opponents are employing new tactics to defend the status quo. Chief among those is the claim that legalizing same-sex marriage will infringe on the religious freedom of those who oppose the practice on theological grounds.
As a both a devout Catholic and a supporter of marriage equality, I would like to believe that the rights of my more conservative co-religionists and my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends can be reconciled through careful legislative draftsmanship. However, the bishops of my church and their allies have demonstrated no interest in reconciliation. Rather, they have taken an uncompromising stand based on principles that they readily ignore at other times, and blurred the distinction between freedom and entitlement in troubling ways.
To be taken seriously, appeals to religious freedom must be rooted in consistent teaching and practice. The arguments advanced by opponents of marriage equality do not meet this standard.The Catholic Church, for instance, recognizes only marriages conducted under its own auspices. It does not recognize marriage after divorce, unless the partner seeking to remarry has obtained an annulment. By Catholic standards, then, most of the marriages in this country are null and void.