Same-sex marriage presents no threat to freedom of religion, or so we are told. After all, the sky did not fall in the day that the US Supreme Court voted five-to-four, in the case of Obergefell v Hodges, to make same-sex marriage a legal right. On the whole, life went on as normal.
But on both sides of the Atlantic, the evidence is mounting – religious freedom (and freedom in general) will suffer at the altar of same-sex marriage. This is because in the current clamour to legalise same-sex marriage, dissent is not to be tolerated, and opponents of same-sex marriage must be silenced.
Here are five ways in which freedom is – and will be – threatened.
1) The workplace
Anyone involved in work relating to marriage and relationships has faced significant pressure to condone, facilitate and support same-sex marriages – despite the dictates of his or her conscience. In some cases, failure to do so has resulted in the termination of employment.
For example, Lillian Ladele was forced to leave her job as a London-based marriage registrar because she would not officiate same-sex civil unions. Similarly, UK Christian sex therapist Gary McFarlane was dismissed for gross misconduct because he had a conscientious objection to treating same-sex couples.
And other sectors are vulnerable to this process, too. In 2011, Adrian Smith, a housing manager in Manchester, was demoted and had his salary reduced by 40 per cent because he said on his personal Facebook page that same-sex marriage was ‘an equality too far’.
What’s more, when it was discovered that Brendan Eich, the CEO and founder of internet company Mozilla, donated a small amount of his private income to Proposition 8, a ballot measure to ban gay marriages in California, he was forced to resign. As a columnist for the New York Times explained:
‘Many people at Mozilla did not consider Mr Eich’s views on gay marriage to be completely irrelevant to his role as chief executive. Even those who argued that he should stay on as chief executive worried that his stance would reduce the company’s ability to attract people to their mission.’
Such cases will surely increase if the current trajectory is followed.
2) The marketplace
Same-sex marriage also demands complete orthodoxy in the marketplace; any marriage-related business is under serious threat of being sued and ultimately closed if it does not conform. Bakers, florists, photographers, guest houses, wedding venues and printing companies who have refused to allow their creative talents or facilities to be used to promote or celebrate same-sex marriages have been sued in a number of countries.
The brutal message of these cases is clear: ‘If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, then don’t run a business involving marriages or relationships.’ One can only imagine how much harder it will become for individuals and companies to act according to conscience now that same-sex marriage has been legalised across the world.