The Supreme Court has been hearing oral arguments in the case of Obergefell v Hodges, better known as the “gay marriage” case, and one exchange between the government’s lawyers and two of the Justices is worth note.
Chief Justice John Roberts started it by asking if a religious school that had married housing would be required to accommodate same-sex couples, and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli answered that it would be a matter left to the states, and when pressed by Roberts about federal law Verilli said, “There is no federal law now generally banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that’s where those issues are going to have to be worked out.” Justice Samuel Alito later noted that Bob Jones University had lost its tax-exempt status as a result of its rules against inter-racial dating by students, and wondered if institutions with traditional notions of homosexuality would be similarly affected, to which Verrilli replied, “You know, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.”
Sometimes the big stories sneak up on a country, but in this case we have been duly forewarned by a remarkably candid Solicitor General. Whether or not any institution of freely associated Americans can continue to hew to a traditional ideal of sexual morality without penalty is going to be an issue. Most churches hew to a traditional ideal of sexual morality, as do most synagogues, and even the more moderate mosques are downright strict about it, which will raise all sorts of interesting multi-cultural issues for the sorts of people who concern themselves with such things, and many of the unchurched and apolitical are also reluctant to embrace the newly fashionable attitudes, so we expect it’s going to be quite an issue. There’s already a broader of issue about religious freedom, which includes another case awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision about Obamacare’s requirement that nuns purchase contraceptive coverage as part of their health care plans, and the debate about whether businesses should be compelled to participate in same-sex marriages, and elite opinion’s general disdain for Judeo-Christian western civilization, and a Solicitor General has made clear that there’s more coming.
— Bud Norman