Marriage law needs exemption

Marriage law needs exemption

There's a glaring omission in same-sex marriage legislation passed last week by the Illinois Senate — an exemption for those who do not want to engage in something they feel is morally repugnant.

Public opinion polls suggest — and they may well be correct — that attitudes toward same-sex marriage have shifted dramatically, so much so that it's only a matter of time, both in Illinois and many other states, that it will be formally recognized by law.

If that is indeed the case, the proper forum for its recognition is in a state's policy-making branch of government — the legislature. Ideas whose time has come should not become public policy as a result of fiats issued by judges who legislate from the bench.

So last week's vote by the Illinois Senate most likely is a harbinger of things to come. It won't be, as some claim, the end of the world. But it may well be another example of those holding nontraditional views using their newfound legal status to bludgeon those who disagree with them into line.

The impending embrace of same-sex marriage in Illinois is not so simple as allowing two men or two women to marry. It also allows same-sex marriage proponents to force dissenters into being unwilling participants under the force of law.

Concern about that unattractive possibility was raised by members of the Illinois Senate, mostly as it addressed religious institutions that oppose sex-same marriage. Indeed, state Sen. Jason Barickman, a Bloomington Republican, explained that he voted in favor of same-sex marriage only after a provision was adopted in the legislation that exempts religious institutions from being required to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Assured that churches, defined as institutions "whose principal purpose is the study, practice or advancement of religion," would be insulated from being legally compelled to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, Barickman voted yes and then congratulated himself for having the moral courage to do what he called "the right thing."

Of course, doing the right thing isn't always easy to divine. Those who oppose same-sex marriage think they're doing the right thing, too.

Indeed, throughout all of human history until this moment, every society on earth has decreed that marriage was limited to those of different genders.

Were they all moral reprobates, leaving themselves to be re-educated on the issue by Barickman, state Sen. Michael Frerichs and the other members of the Illinois Senate who voted in favor? Not likely.

This issue is a matter of conscience, and there is sharp disagreement that cannot be bridged. It would be wise if proponents of gay marriage recognized that.

That's why Barickman's so-called guarantee is no guarantee at all. It's certainly his hope. Then again, supporters of Obamacare guaranteed that the Catholic Church wouldn't be forced to provide birth control for its employees, a practice President Obama is now trying to force on it.

Proponents of civil unions in Illinois never hinted that they would force Catholic Social Services out of business for refusing, for religious reasons, to place adoptable children in families with same-sex partners. But that's just what happened.

Indeed, Barickman's guarantee that he claims protects religious rights specifically "does not include businesses, health care facilities, educational facilities or social service agencies."

So get ready for some ma-and-pa enterprise not in the vanguard of social change being sued because it does not wish to participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony, reception or wedding night activities.

It would, in our view, be wise for the legislative proponents of same-sex marriage to give those people a legal exemption from engaging in that which they find morally repugnant. Why not respect dissenters who hold to the apparently antiquated view that marriage is for one man and one woman?

They should because it's the smart way to address society's shifting attitudes. There will be no shortage of agencies or businesses to meet the commercial or personal needs of same-sex couples, and, in time, those attitudes may soften and fade away.

But the legislation, as drafted, does not do that, and it's a major omission.

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SaintClarence27 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I like how asserting your civil rights is equated with bludgeoning "those who disagree with them." You mean the bigots who think it's okay to force their religion onto everyone else? 

Here's the key - no one can force churches to perform gay weddings. The claim that this law would have ever done so is simply a red herring, meant to change the debate from civil rights to protecting religious freedom. You know what protects religious freedom? Allowing consenting adults to marry, regardless of what the Bible may say.

If the N-G editorial staff is coming out against gay marriage, then simply do so. Then I can call them all bigots. This pussyfooting around it with a legal excuse (that the editorial staff obviously does not understand), means I have to call them both bigots AND cowards.

rsp wrote on February 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

No, no, no, they're just trying to protect the rights of people to hold bigoted views. Some day in the future they may see things differently. It's like the blind leading the blind. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Just be open about it at least. If the NG editorial staff is full of bigots, they should say so. If not, they should say so.

Joe American wrote on February 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

Bigoted views because someone finds something immoral?  You clearly have no idea what the term even means, because every definition involves some level of hatred. (quick!  Google it!)

rsp, every time you seem to have a run of common sense you post something ridiculous like this.  Sounds to me like you are the one harboring hate for those with different views than yourself.  And you obviously have no tolerance for views other than those that you hold.

B-Evs wrote on February 28, 2013 at 9:02 am

How do you define hatred, then?  Does it have to be a public statement of hate?  Does it have to be stomping around like Yosemite Sam about how you hates them gays?  Or can it be subtle?  Can you just not want them to have the same rights as you because they're different?  Because you think they're icky or 'immoral'?  At what point does 'hate the sin, love the sinner' become hatred of the sinner when you won't let them have the same rights as you do?  I mean, you can say you don't hate gays, but you just don't want them to be able to visit their significant other in the hospital or make medical decisions for them.  Or be able to adopt.  Or inherit.  Or file taxes together.  Or just _be_ there, being happy in a way that you think that only 'normal' people should be happy.  But that's not hate, you didn't _say_ you hate them, no magic words, just hateful actions.

And yep, I'm intolerant of their intolerance.  :)  Treating other people as lesser, as not deserving of basic human rights is one of my hates, just like how I hate bullies.  The bigots are welcome to state their viewpoints, I won't stop them.  But it won't stop me from laughing at them and pointing out how they are wrong.  Because gay people are _people_.  They deserve all of the same rights and protections as anyone else.

SaintClarence27 wrote on March 01, 2013 at 8:03 am

Why should I be tolerant of bigotry? NIce talking point, but ALWAYS speaking out against hatred and bigotry is the right action. I've failed to do it before, and I will try my best never to do it again. Do I hate bigots? No. But I certainly will state that they are wrong - morally, ethically, constitutionally, religiously, and righteously. And I won't feel the slightest bit bad about it. I've posted the definition of bigotry before, and this is it. 

Joe, you seem to refuse to even state - are you against allowing gays to marry?

EL YATIRI wrote on February 28, 2013 at 10:02 am
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Agreed.  The NG is just plain wrong.  Some folks were also offended by interracial marriage and it was legalized without any detriment to society.  Live and let live.

knobren wrote on February 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Why stop at an exemption for dissenters to same-sex marriage?  I'm sure there are people who don't want to serve interracial or interfaith couples or any couple of a different race or faith than themselves.  What about couples who are underage, but marrying with their parents' consent or those who are legally adults, but who are marrying without it?  What about a very pregnant bride who chooses to wear a white dress?  Maybe they will choose not to serve a couple with a big age difference or a couple where one or both are disabled.  Maybe they don't think Little People should be allowed to marry Big People.

 I think you can see that there are plenty of times where an individual might not like to issue a license, perform a wedding ceremony,  or provide goods and services, but as a society, we have decided that you are not allowed to discriminate against others, just because you don't like "those kind of people" and what you think of their "immoral" choices.  Those seeking exemptions to serving people in same-sex marriages would have been the same people refusing to serve "colored people" or issue marriage licenses to interracial couple a few decades ago.  The arguments were similar to.  "God made a black woman for a black man and a white woman for a white man.  If He wanted people to intermarry, there would only be one race.". Now, we hear, "God made a man and a woman - Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve".  

On a side-note, historically, marriage didn't even used to be performed inside the Christian Church.  Marriages used to be a matter between individuals or families and in some places were registered with the local government.  Only later did the Church decide it was a religious matter.

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

On the contrary, churches can discriminate if they so choose, and no "religious exemption" needs to be in place for them to do so. They are allowed their religious freedom, which means that they can perform marriage ceremonies or not based on their choosing. But to allow these freakshows to affect whether two loving people can get married by SOMEONE ELSE ENTIRELY - religiously persecuting homosexuals while hypocritically whining about being religiously persecuted themselves - is completely ludicrous. I'm disappointed by the NG many times per year, but I think this is the worst it's been.

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on February 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

OK, so, according to the News-Gazette, I, as an independeint business owner, can refuse to do business with or service anyone that I feel is "morally repugnant". Well, I find the fact that the Catholic church continues to protect and cover up a bunch of pedophiles "morally repugnant".  Does that mean that I should be allowed an "exemption" from doing business with anyone that disagrees with that point of view?  Let's see how long it would take before I would get sued!

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Unless you work in real estate (which would be covered under the Fair Housing Act) or a few other industries (inns, lodging, and I believe "public accommodation" which would affect interstate travel/commerce), you wouldn't get sued. You'd lose your business most likely because people wouldn't go there, but you wouldn't get sued.

sofyachy wrote on February 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

It's editorials like this one that force me to remind myself that I want to know about local news, so that I don't stop reading the NG entirely. Our constitution includes a "Separation of Church and State" for a reason: no single religious group's definition of morality should dictate secular law.

Colorado State Sen. Pat Steadman recently addressed this issue much more eloquently than I can, so I will quote his words as they appear in this article in The Advocate's website:

"So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate," asked Steadman rhetorically. "I'll tell you what I'd say — get thee to a nunnery. Live there then. Go live a monastic life, away from modern society, away from the people you can't see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you might have to serve them, or employ them, or rent banquet halls to them.  Go someplace and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains, if you want. But don't claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens."

syzlack wrote on February 23, 2013 at 9:02 am

And you can copy manuscripts with your old fountain pens.  And speaking of morally repugnant, will the good Catholics who run the NG be printing any of the recent news from Rome's La Repubblica newspaper about why the pope resigned?  I didn't think so.

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 23, 2013 at 9:02 am

Whatever happened to the Catholic priest in Danville who was suing the News Gazette?  The Paxton (News Gazette) newspaper ran a sensational story defaming the priest based on a letter supposedly signed by the priest.  When the priest complained, the letter was found to be bogus.  The trial was moved to Paxton instead of being held in Danville, or Champaign.  I have not found out the outcome of the lawsuit.

I cannot say that the management of the News Gazette are "good Catholics" based on that; and other articles, and opinions written by the paper.  How many Baptists, Muslims, Jehova Witnesses, Mormons, Methodists, and assorted Fundamentalists are opposed to same sex marriage?

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Separation of church, and state should be the focus of the legislation.  Churches are not required to violate their ministers faith.  Commerce such as renting reception halls, catering, and other businesses is a different matter.  A restaurant owner deciding not to allow Italians in his establishment is discriminatory.  A hotel owner deciding not to allow Moslems in his hotel is discriminatory.  Both businesses are subject to law based on commerce involving the public.  Remove the churches from the arguement; and focus on the state regulation of commerce.  Otherwise, it is the Chick Fil up story again. 

B-Evs wrote on February 28, 2013 at 9:02 am

Wow.  I agree with StClarence.  You should really just come out of the closet and say you're bigoted instead of trying to weasel-word it.  Is this editorial also in the print paper or are we internet-readers just lucky?

If you do not approve of gay marriage, _you don't have to have one_.  No one will force you to get gay married and if two people in love and committing to each other makes you unhappy, then you should not complain about single parent families and also not watch anything with celebrity marriages in them because their marriage practices are often insulting to 'traditional marriage'.  Oh and no Newt Gingrich adoration either.  If part of your job requires you to provide services for the public, no if, ands, or buts, then you provide your service to the public or you work out an accomodation with your employer or you lose your job.  Do marriage license providers at the county clerk get to quiz couples as to whether they have be living with each other prior or fornicating?  How about whether the couple is fertile?

The projection of persecution is strong in this article.  The mentions of Obamacare and Catholic Social Services especially.  You _did_ know that multiple Catholic organizations were providing birth control in their insurance policies before Obamacare?  The whole thing about Sandra Fluke was because she was testifying about a lesbian friend of hers who could not get hormonal birth control to help _a medical problem she has_.  Nothing to do with sex or getting pregnant.  And yet her Catholic-run college still refused to provide the medication that was prescribed.

There is a difference between a public business and a religious organization.  If you are a public business, you serve the public, pay taxes and there are laws as to what you can and cannot do in regards to your services and hiring practices.  With Catholic Social Services, they were 'forced' by telling them that they follow the law like everyone else or else they lose federal funding.  If you can't follow federal law, you shouldn't get federal money.  Same with the churches that want to control the hormonal cycles and uteruses of any women on their property.  Are you 'forced' to wear a seat belt?  Drive the speed limit? Not run over pedestrians with your car? Why is obeying the law in those cases okay but providing normal needed health coverage to women and legal marital status to gays unlawful?

Also, since 2005, the Illinois Human Rights Act added sexual orientation to the list of things that you can't discriminate against when dealing with employment, real estate, financial credit and _public accomodations_.  If your bigot companies have a problem, then they have been coasting by since 2005.  I say, fly your bigot flag high!  Let everyone know that you won't serve those gays!  Let your customers only be those who agree with you and be prepared for possible lawsuits because you're _breaking the law_!  If you want to feel persecuted, feel free.  It doesn't make you right.  (And it doesn't make you actually persecuted.  Christianity is still the majority religion in the US and cries of persecution because of having to _legally obey_ the separation of church and state just make such arguements look childish.)

"every society on earth has decreed that marriage was limited to those of different genders." - if I remember right, there are some societies that allowed same-sex marriage, if rarely.  Native American societies allowed them in some circumstances.  But if you want to go by what 'every society on earth' has decreed about marriage, then I guess you're fine with women being chattel, property.  You should come out and say that you believe that gays are lesser beings, not human enough and don't deserve human rights.  This is their pursuit of happiness.

Utowner wrote on February 28, 2013 at 11:02 am

I'm very glad the N-G editorial staff has the courage to admit their bigotry.  It is what every legislator who votes against same-sex marriage needs to embrace.  We now have it docmented for the annals of history.  Think about how we thought of Strom Thurmond towards the end of his life.  These folks will soon be in the same position.  There is nothing wrong with being a bigot.  It is your right.  I love the First Amendment.  And yes, I am gay.

Bulldogmojo wrote on February 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Wasn't it just a couple of years ago that this was in the news...

(AP) NEW ORLEANS A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

People can dress up their bigotry in the god argument all they want it is still bigotry. There is also no such thing as exclusive bigotry that some people have for their rationalizations. That is to say they claim to be embracing people of color but they draw the line on gay people and that is supposed to pass for tolerance. The desire to marginalize other people always rears its ugly head in some way and right in the pages of the NG.


outoftownie wrote on February 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

This country was founded on freedom, and that includs relgious freedom. Many members of certain religions freely practiced in the USA went through or continue to go through religious persecution elsewhere. Real religious persecution, such as the Inquisition.

It surprises me that here in a land of religious freedom that religion strives to try to take over government. The fact is, you are free to practice or not practice as you wish, so long as it is in a peaceful manner. We give religion tax-free status and a voice. But we are not a theocracy, thank God. Even Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's. That was a response as to whether good, practicing Jews should pay taxes to Rome.

It surprises me that certain religions, which have been persecuted in the past for various reasons, would like to take this time to turn around and persecute those in weaker positions. Apparently we learned the lssons from our oppressors all too well.


Frankly, marriage is such a huge legal institution. It has many implications on inheritance, medical decisions, and taxes. And the failure rate of marriage is still above 50%. 50%!


What sanctity is that?


BTW, I am a Catholic, with some Irish heritage. I also studied a little bug called Phytophthora infestans. A certain strain of it causes Late Blight of Potato...

JRR wrote on March 01, 2013 at 1:03 am

I should not be surprised that the News-Gazette's editorial board is taking the low road, and that they're pussyfooting around the subject without making it clear exactly what they want.

The draft legislation adequately protects the rights of religious groups by the following clause:

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require any religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, to solemnize any marriage. Instead, any religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group is free to choose which marriages it will solemnize. No refusal by a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group, or any minister, clergy, or officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination or Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group to solemnize any marriage under this Act shall create or be the basis for any civil, administrative, or criminal penalty, claim, or cause of action.

Further, there are protections wherein a church can, under certain conditions lawfully withhold use of, say, a parish hall, for marriages that it does not recognize.

Any secular entity (i.e., a business or individual) involved in marriage ceremonies, receptions or wedding night activities who finds same-sex marriage as "morally repugnant" should probably find another line of work, or learn to adapt.

Since the News-Gazette is not likely to provide much in the way of factual detail about this legislation, I encourage interested parties to look at the draft legislation itself, and form their own views on whether the General Assembly has struck a balance between the rights of the individual as well as to the rights of religious groups to live within the confines of their belief systems. I believe it has.

SaintClarence27 wrote on March 01, 2013 at 8:03 am

Thank you, JRR. Essentially, the Editorial staff is filled with bigots who lie about the text of the law and what it means, rather than just openly admit their bigotry.

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on March 01, 2013 at 10:03 am

Agreed.  This group makes John Hirschfeld look like a rational person!

danrice56 wrote on March 01, 2013 at 10:03 am

"Ideas whose time has come."??????

It's difficult to take an editorial seriously when the writer can't even follow the basic rules of english.