The blitzkrieg-like success of homosexual liberation in the early twenty-first century, culminating in the same-sex marriage decision in June, presents Christians and other adherents of traditional sexual morality with a new legal reality, but not with a new moral reality. Moral reality has not changed, and continues to call on all people of good will to advance and defend its claims. This was the clear message of Ryan Anderson, Heritage Foundation fellow and leading advocate of traditional marriage, and other prominent spokesman for traditional morality and liberty of conscience at a panel discussion concerning the current conflict over marriage and liberty of conscience. Anderson and the panelists discussed the issue in connection with his new book, Truth Overruled: the Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, which concerns what should be done in the wake of the same-sex marriage decision.
Jennifer Marshall, also of the Heritage Foundation, moderated the discussion with Anderson, Professor Robert George of Princeton University, Mollie Hemingway, Senior Editor at the Federalist, and Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute. She began by noting that “when the Supreme Court imposed same-sex marriage on the country on June 26, many people concluded that the debate was simply over. Ryan Anderson was not among them.” Despite arguments for traditional marriage advanced by Anderson and other marriage supporters, “the Supreme Court failed to address these arguments, much less effectively answer them, rather, they simply set them aside.” She went on to say that Anderson has declared that the debate is not over “because of many new questions raised by same-sex marriage … [raised] particularly by the voices of the children of gays and lesbians, and debates about religious freedom.”
Anderson began his discussion of what social conservatives can do in the future by noting the similarities in the situations caused by the Supreme Court’s imposition of same-sex marriage and its earlier imposition of abortion. Anderson noted that “first, pro-lifers rejected Roe vs. Wade as an illegitimate Supreme Court decision. They said it was judicial activism that had no basis in the text, the history, the logic, or the structure of our Constitution.” Also, after Roe vs. Wade, as has also been the case with the advance of homosexuality, there was an attack on liberty of conscience, with the claim that abortion is “basic health care,” and “therefore everyone should be required to pay for abortions and all medical personnel should be required to perform abortions.” But “the pro-lifers succeeded, through a variety of legal mechanisms, in protecting their right not to pay for abortion or to perform abortions.” Freedom not to pay for abortions existed until the advent of the Obama Administration and its HHS mandate, while medical personnel continue to be legally protected against having to provide them. Anderson said his new book explains how liberty of conscience can be guaranteed to those opposed to same-sex marriage (“bakers and florists and photographers and adoption agencies and schools”) . Even those in favor of same-sex marriage should support liberty of conscience, rather than attempting to “coerce or penalize those who are against it.” Anderson indicated that these coercive policies depend on the analogy to racism, but his book explains why the analogy between traditional morality and racism is wrong, namely, that race is not part of the essence of marriage, whereas sex is.