Anyone entertaining the notion that the advancement of “gay rights” needn’t adversely affect those with moral objections to the normalization of homosexual unions should pay close attention to what happened to Christopher Kempling.
The British Columbia public school teacher was suspended for a month without pay and received a black spot on his professional record for writing letters critical of the practice of homosexuality to a local newspaper, the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.
The Canadian Charter of Rights protects citizens’ freedom of expression and religion, but that was apparently no bar, in the eyes of the British Columbia Supreme Court, to a local teachers panel’s punishment of Mr. Kempling.
As one of the justices wrote for the court in denying Mr. Kempling’s appeal of the penalty: “Discriminatory speech is incompatible with the search for truth. In addition, [Mr. Kempling’s] publicly discriminatory writings undermine the ability of members of the targeted group, homosexuals, to attain individual self-fulfillment…”
The lesson of the Kempling case transcends its Canadian context; it is of no less import to Americans or Europeans. The issue of “gay rights” is not benign; the struggle between those who wish to make homosexuality acceptable as a normative lifestyle and those who do not is, simply put, a zero-sum game. To the degree that the gay movement’s program is advanced, those who adhere to a traditional moral system will be not merely ignored, but vilified, demonized and penalized.
That “gay rights” zero-sum truism is at the core of a legal brief recently submitted to the United States Supreme Court by the organization I am privileged to represent, Agudath Israel of America. We asked the Court to review and reverse a lower court’s decision permitting the state of Connecticut to disqualify the Boy Scouts from inclusion on a list of charities to which state employees were encouraged to contribute. The reason the Boy Scouts were disqualified was the group’s policy of not allowing homosexuals to serve as scoutmasters or in leadership positions
One of the brief’s main points is that decisions like the lower court’s patently malign traditional religious groups for their deeply-held beliefs. As The New York Sun noted in an editorial shortly after the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s “same-sex marriage” ruling, “with a few exceptions, this cause [the acceptance of same-sex marriage] is being advanced through the denigration of Jews and Christians who adhere to the fundamentals of religious law.”
The editorial went on to recount the reaction of “a friend” of the editorialist to the opposition to same-sex marriages asserted by “Agudath Israel and its Council of Torah Sages.” Said the gentleman: “I see them as bigots…”
Similarly, an American Civil Liberties Union advertisement several years ago in The New York Times compared those who object on moral grounds to homosexuality as akin to vicious racists of yesteryear. Those who espouse a traditional view of acceptable sexual behavior, the ACLU asserted, seek “to hide behind morality.” But, the ad continues, “we all know a bigot when we see one.”
If disapproving of homosexual behavior is bigotry, then adherents of most religions – along with nonbelievers who nevertheless accept the validity of the traditional moral code – are, ipso facto, villains. What is more, there is no reason why the label is any less applicable to those who disapprove of other affronts to the moral ideal – like multi-partner or incestuous relationships. Either morality has true meaning and trumps what some people, even many people, wish to do, or it does not.
And if moral scruples are indeed conceptually devolved into bigotry, there will be not only denigration and derision of traditionalists, but discrimination and legal action against them too – as Mr. Kempling’s treatment and Connecticut’s action against the Boy Scouts well demonstrate.
The scenario of Catholic organizations, or Jewish religious schools, or devout Muslims being branded – and even prosecuted as – bigots, simply for operating or living according to deeply-held religious convictions is not unthinkable.
It is, on the contrary, but the logical outcome of a process that began as a plea for “rights,” is continuing as a demand that marriage be redefined, and that – unless it is stopped soon – will end as a triumphant crushing of the ability of religious, or just morality-minded, citizens and communities to live their lives freely, in accordance with their consciences and beliefs.