Ireland is voting today on a referendum that, if successful, would make the country the first in the world to institute marriage equality by popular vote — a development that has alarmed marriage equality opponents around the world, including in the U.S.
On Wednesday, a group of U.S. and Canadian marriage equality opponents sent a “ message of caution to the Irish people ” warning them that the progress of LGBT rights in the United States has “produced serious and troubling consequences for religious freedom” and led “homosexual activists” to “censor, silence, coerce, and punish religious believers who criticize, oppose or resist them.”
Signatories of the letter, which was published on the website of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, include Brian Camenker of MassResistance, Human Life International President Shenan Boquet, John Horvat of the group Tradition, Family and Property, and John-Henry Westin, editor of the Canada-based LifeSiteNews.
The examples of supposed anti-Christian persecution cited in the letter include fines imposed on businesses that refuse service to gay and lesbian customers (which are the result of nondiscrimation laws, not same-sex marriage), a misprepresentation of an exchange in the recent Supreme Court marriage arguments about discrimination by religious schools, and the fact that employers have to provide spousal benefits to their legally married gay employees.
American groups seeking to stop LGBT rights initiatives abroad are increasingly leaning on the “religious liberty” messaging that they are using at home. In fact, the ways that LGBT equality and abortion rights supposedly trample on the religious freedom of their opponents will be the theme of the next World Congress of Families gathering in Utah.
From the Catholic Action League’s press release about the letter to Ireland:
“The progress of same gender marriage in the United States has produced serious and troubling consequences for religious freedom in America, including limitations on free speech, discrimination against Catholics and other religious believers, and state sponsored coercion, characterized by harshly punitive measures against Christians and others who refuse to violate their consciences in this matter,” the signatories said in a statement released earlier today.
“Among the examples of injustice directed at those who support the perennial understanding of marriage are the following:
- Printers, photographers, bakers, florists, innkeepers and others have been the objects of lawsuits by homosexuals, and investigations, resulting in fines---some as high as $150,000---and other civil penalties, by administrative law, government enforcement agencies, for refusing to service same gender marriage ceremonies;
- The Solicitor General of the United States, in arguments before the U. S. Supreme Court, admitted that religiously affiliated institutions, such as schools and charities, could lose their tax exempt status if they refuse to recognize same gender unions as marriages;
- Military and naval chaplains have faced warnings and disciplinary proceedings, for counseling members of the Armed Forces that homosexual behavior is sinful;
- In Massachusetts, a federal judge has ruled that public schools must instruct the children attending them, without parental notification or consent, that same gender marriage is the equivalent of traditional marriage;
- In states where same gender marriage has been legalized, employers, including religious employers, must provide spousal benefits to the partners of homosexuals who have contracted civil marriages.”
“For three decades now, homosexual activists have portrayed themselves as victims of intolerance who are only seeking to end discrimination and achieve equality. The reality is very different. Wherever the homosexual agenda has prevailed, homosexual activists have sought to use the authority of the law, the power of the government, and the money of the taxpayers to censor, silence, coerce, and punish religious believers who criticize, oppose or resist them.”
“We respectfully urge the people of the Republic of Ireland to weigh carefully the implications of same gender marriage to their own freedoms, and to re-affirm the millennia-old definition of marriage by voting No on Friday.”