Members of religious organizations should proclaim and
defend their understanding of marriage. They can and should determine who can
be married in their midst, what the marriage means for the marriage partners
and the community of which they are members, and how they believe such
marriages honor God.
But members of religious organizations do not get to insist
that gay Americans should not have the same civil
right to marry as other Americans because of those members’ religious
beliefs. The Constitution does not allow any of us to impose our religious
beliefs on others. Catholics do not get to tell the rest of us that we can’t
practice birth control. Southern Baptists cannot tell other denominations that
they cannot ordain women. Christians cannot prohibit Jewish men from wearing
yarmulkes or Muslim women from wearing their head coverings. No American should
be able to prohibit gay Americans from marrying their choice of mate because of
her or his religious beliefs.
Religious liberty and civil rights are both protected by the
Constitution. However tricky the balance between the two might be, we should
celebrate such a balance in our rule of law.