SAME-SEX MARRIAGE made plenty of news in 2008, from court decisions legalizing it to the adoption of amendments banning it to the ongoing battle over Proposition 8 in the one state -- California -- where both occurred.
But one front in the marriage wars rarely gets the coverage it deserves: the drive by gay activists to punish religious believers whose faith forbids homosexual relationships. Consider three (of many) recent cases:
- In April, photographers Jon and Elaine Huguenin were fined $6,637 by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission for declining to shoot a lesbian commitment ceremony. The Huguenins didn't want to take a job that would have required them to disregard their Christian values. But the civil rights commission ruled that in turning down the work, they had illegally discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Marcia Walden, a licensed counselor in Georgia, was fired for referring a lesbian client to a counselor better suited to help her. "Jane Doe" had approached Walden for help with her same-sex relationship -- a request with which Walden recognized her own religious beliefs were in conflict. Rather than provide insincere counseling, Walden referred Jane to a colleague. That colleague commended her for doing "the right thing" by making the referral, but Jane later filed a complaint, and Walden ended up losing her job.
- Just last month, the dating site eHarmony agreed to begin providing gay and lesbian matchmaking services in order to settle a lawsuit accusing it of discrimination. eHarmony was founded by evangelical psychologist Neil Clark Warren in 2000 and had never provided a same-sex option. ("I don't know what the dynamics are there," Warren once explained.) But rather than choose a dating service that catered to gays, a New Jersey man decided to sue eHarmony for not doing so. It was "hurtful," he said, that the site required members to register as either "man seeking a woman" or "woman seeking a man." New Jersey's attorney general jumped into the case -- and eHarmony caved under pressure.
For many gay marriage supporters, it is not enough that same-sex relationships be normalized: Any private reluctance to accept that normalization must also be penalized. Freedom of religion is the first of our liberties, the guarantee that opens the First Amendment. But religious liberty is under assault by gay activists, and the First Amendment is getting battered. It ought to be a bigger story.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)