By Travis Weber
With Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promising a vote on legislation that will codify same-sex marriage, it is worth reviewing the serious threats to religious freedom that have already arisen as this idea (and its underlying ideology) has been legitimized in recent years. Looming among these is the threat to the tax-exempt status of religious organizations that believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
The issue hit public consciousness at oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges, when the Obama administration refused to rule out marginalizing and punishing faith-based organizations, telling the Court “it is going to be an issue” if a college or university wanted to retain its tax-exempt status and at the same time hold on to its adherence to natural marriage. This admission alone demonstrates the need to protect those whose views put them in the crosshairs of hostile government authorities. Since that time, the threat has only increased.
In recent years, many have been targeted by hostile government authorities for their beliefs about marriage. Religious associations have been forced to open their facilities. Judges have been barred from joining nonprofit organizations. State officials have shut down longstanding adoption and foster care providers, and have severed partnerships with Catholic Charities as it tries to serve needy children. States have used their power to punish counselors seeking to follow their consciences. In one case, a social worker had his job threatened and was forced to defend his license before a state board because he said that he believed kids should have a mom and a dad. In another case, USDA inspectors told a business owner he had to remove materials supporting natural marriage from his office breakroom or they wouldn’t sign off on his inspection. And there is no telling how many others have been silenced.
And now, just like the Obama administration, the Biden administration’s strategy to marginalize those with “unacceptable” beliefs is putting religious universities and nonprofits in the crosshairs. The administration is forcing schools to violate their beliefs on marriage and sexuality, and backing away from “vigorously” defending their religious freedom rights.