On Friday, June 26th, a huge step was taken for equality in this country when the Supreme Court handed down a ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states of the United States. Voices all over the world rose up in celebration but, naturally, there were a few shouting over the festivities about religious freedom. These voices, of course, belonged to Republican right wing religious extremists.
Some, like Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, even went so far as to sign a pledge that reads, “We will not honor any decision by the Supreme Court which will force us to violate a clear biblical understanding of marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman.” Huckabee proclaimed the Supreme Court, “can’t overrule God.” And Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Steve King have even asked any future Republican president and Congress to ignore any rulings on same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court.
Now, let’s just set aside the fact that these pledges blatantly disregard the oath these men took when they were elected to office, swearing to uphold the law and the Constitution of the United States. That alone should be enough to have them impeached from any current office or send up enough of a red flag to the level-headed citizens of the nation to cast their vote elsewhere. The bigger problem here is that the Republican party is still attempting to drag church and religious beliefs into government legislation.
Let me enlighten these respective politicians to a little history. You know, actual history; not the political rhetoric they have invented in an attempt to fool the American people. The separation of church and state is a wall that needs to be respected. It is a wall that our forefathers believed in and upheld. In a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Connecticut Baptist Church concerning religious rights he said:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
Read and re-read those words, Republican extremists. Granting the basic civil right for people to marry whom they love governs actions, not opinions. You can believe all you want that marriage should be a union solely between a man and a woman; you are perfectly entitled to that belief. But the Supreme Court has upheld that the Constitution protects the rights of same-sex couples to marry – an action. And this action has absolutely no affect on your ability to practice your religion; it does not interfere with your relationship to your God nor does it interfere with your own marriage. Article III of the Bill of Rights protects your right to practice your religion; it does not, however, grant you the right to govern by religion. In doing so, you are actually infringing upon the Bill of Rights and the rights of every other American. As Jefferson said, "religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God."
Our forefathers fled tyranny so they could practice their religion without being imprisoned, tortured or even killed. They wanted to be free to choose what religion they practiced and not have one forced upon them by The Crown. I’m fairly certain you just read those words and found yourselves identifying with our forefathers. Well, I have news for you, Santorum and Friends; in this scenario, you are The Crown. You are the tyrannical body attempting to force your religious beliefs on a nation of people that don’t necessarily want them. You are trying to use your religion to squash the rights of others. You have become the very thing our forefathers were running from.
If you continue down this path of thinly disguised bigotry and ignorance, what will your legacy be? How will history remember you? Because make no mistake, this nation will continue to evolve; it will continue to move forward to a place where we, as a people, will not attempt to destroy each other’s pursuit of happiness but we will embrace each other and accept each other without prejudice. And your voice will fade. Your voice will become a dim, unpleasant murmur in history alongside the voices that supported segregation, opposed a woman’s right to vote and turned a blind eye to the AIDS epidemic because you thought it only killed gays.
That is how you will be remembered, gentlemen; not as a champion of freedom but as a religious tyrant. Can you live with that?