If Anderson actually had a good argument then the Supreme Court might have come to a different conclusion.

Ryan T. Anderson

Marriage equality became a settled issue on June 26, 2015 by a ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States. That has not stopped Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson from advocating for opposition to same-sex marriage. The reason that Anderson opposes marriage equality and the reason that he continues to be an advocate against a settled issue is that Anderson is an ultra-conservative Catholic. The Church has told him that it is his duty to resist and oppose same-sex marriage in any way possible and he has obliged.

It is not an entirely futile endeavor. While Anderson is not going to upend marriage equality he helps to define the talking points for those people who think that a religious objection should be a valid reason for businesses to refuse service to those people they disapprove of — all packaged as “religious freedom.” When James Madison authored the First Amendment to the Constitution “free exercise” of religion meant the freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice. It is carefully balanced by the Establishment Clause. However, Mr. Anderson’s notion of free exercise is the right to impose the teachings of the Catholic Church on everyone else and call it “religious liberty.”

It is worth noting that Anderson has never asserted a coherent, tangible
argument for marriage discrimination. His thought process starts with
the conclusions of then Cardinal Ratzinger (a theologian and future pope weighing in on social science without the erudition to do so) and then attempts to formulate an argument in support
of the preordained outcome. If Anderson and his ilk actually had a good argument
then the Supreme Court might have come to a different conclusion.

On Wednesday, Anderson took to Heritage Foundation’s blog (Daily Signal) and posted “How Rich Corporate Elites Are Lobbying Lawmakers to Crush Marriage Advocates.” Anderson’s writing style is pure Gish Gallup. Aside from the intellectual dishonesty of describing a group as elites, Anderson is not a “marriage advocate.” Anderson is a catechist who opposes same-sex marriage regardless of the finding by the Supreme Court that marriage equality is necessary in order to provide equal protection and due process to gay citizens.

Anderson is also big on enemies. A few months ago it was “big law.” Since then he has found a multitude of persecutors. Today it is big business also known as the Republican Party donor base. According to Anderson there exists a nefarious conspiracy of gays, business leaders and government to do something that he doesn’t like:

What do you do when you can’t persuade the American people to embrace your values?

You use government coercion to impose those values on people. And you get rich corporate elites to lobby government on your behalf.

Again, marriage equality is a settled issue. Opinion polls (which tend to favor marriage equality) are irrelevant. When it comes to the imposition of values (or attempting to do so) who or what could possibly compare to the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church? Coercion? The previously mentioned treatise by the future Pope Benedict includes: “… the Catholic politician must oppose it [same-sex marriage] in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth.”

Anderson goes through the usual proforma persecution drama at the hands of Democrats and the Human Rights Campaign:

Last week, Democrats in both houses of Congress introduced a bill they call the “Equality Act.” This bill adds the phrase “sexual orientation and gender identity” to more or less every federal law that has protections on the basis of race.

That’s more or less accurate. The objective is to have sexual orientation and sexual identity treated as if they were included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And why should they not be?

If the bill ever became law, the government would treat ordinary Americans who believe we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other in marriage, as if they were racists.

There is nothing “ordinary” about Mr. Anderson. He is a presumed Opus Deist and 34-year-old unmarried virgin. Furthermore, nothing in this bill has anything to do with what people believe. Mr. Anderson does not recognize the validity of our marriages. That is his belief in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Many people feel similarly about interracial marriage. If they happen to engage in public commerce and if they deny any service to an interracial couple then they are going to be treated as bigots. Same goes for people who oppose, on religious grounds, interfaith marriages.

In 28 states it is lawful for businesses to demonstrate their disapproval of gay people by denying service to a same-sex couple. They are permitted to publicly humiliate, denigrate and embarrass fellow citizens. That is not right and that has to change. As a society we have drawn the line at public commerce or public accommodations. Free exercise (and remember that segregation was predicated, or at least excused, on religious belief) doesn’t provide a free pass for discrimination. Scientologists have that protection; gay people do not. Anderson goes on to write:

The Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT activist group behind the bill, has been trumpeting that “Corporate Giants Announce Support” for the bill. That’s right: “corporate giants” want the federal government to coerce and penalize mom-and-pop flower shops because they have a different set of cultural values.

Anderson is proposing that public accommodations should be permitted to discriminate based upon the composition of their ownership. Small businesses should be permitted to discriminate.  Again, we do not permit any business to discriminate based on things like race, national origin or religion. It seems perfectly appropriate (i would say required) for that rationale to extend to sexual orientation and sexual identity. Anderson suggests that discrimination based on race is somehow different than discrimination based on sexual orientation. That is because Anderson subscribes to the religious belief that gay people are “objectively disordered” (per Ratzinger).

Religious beliefs fostered (and continue to foster) discrimination against me because I am Jewish. I fail to appreciate any difference between that and discrimination based on my sexual orientation. In fact I am free to convert to Christianity. I cannot convert to heterosexuality.

Anderson arrives at the poor us:

The basic idea is that LGBT activists couldn’t persuade a majority of citizens to vote to redefine marriage, so they got five unelected judges to redefine marriage for the entire country. Now, they’re using corporate giants to pressure lawmakers in D.C. to enact legislation that would eliminate any dissent.

The truth is that Anderson and his many, many allies failed to persuade a majority of the justices of the Supreme Court that equal protection and due process did not require the recognition of same-sex marriages.  “Eliminate dissent?” Only if dissent includes the right to refuse service or discriminate in the workplace. I don’t think so. The reason, by the way, that corporate America supports workplace equality is that big business does business across the country. They want a gay person or ally to be just as comfortable relocating to Alabama as California. Sadly that is an unlikely comparison regardless of any legislation that might be enacted.

Eventually Anderson gets to this bit of sophistry:

The result is the overreach of progressive government and the administrative state, the sexual revolution’s elevation of desire over reason and the whittling of religious free exercise down to the freedom to worship. We need to counter all of these developments. Policy organizations, religious and civic organizations and legal organizations will have to play their roles in empowering the citizenry to reclaim their government and culture.

And there you have it. Sexual orientation and sexual identity are “desire over reason.” Choice over innate. As for free exercise surely Mr. Anderson knows that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act exists because Justice Scalia opined (for the majority) in Employment Division v. Smith that there are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws lest they become wholly unenforceable.

Yet even with the RFRA in force, Christians are not permitted to discriminate against Jews or Muslims contrary to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Religious Freedom does not extend to discrimination. That was true in 1964 and remained true in 1993 when RFRA was passed. It is certainly true today.

In fact, Mr. Anderson gives reason and cause to the “Equality Act.” Anderson wants the right to discriminate. As a society we are obligated to deny him that right. Gay and transgender people pay taxes. We help to finance the infrastructure that allows businesses to exists. From the roads that bring customers to the door to the police and fire departments that protect business, we pay too. That should entitle us to equal treatment in commerce and the workplace. It is a reasonable expectation.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.