Gay marriage campaigner: Freedom of conscience laws are ‘offensive’

Jul 7, 2015

Talking about introducing laws to protect freedom of conscience is “offensive”, according to the man whose legal campaign culminated in last month’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage in the USA.

Jim Obergefell also said that public officials should not be allowed any reasonable accommodation to act in accordance with their beliefs, in comments that will strike many as illiberal.

He told the Guardian: “Religious freedom is still guaranteed by the constitution. There is nothing about marriage equality that forces any single religious person to perform a marriage that they are against, based on their belief.

“To continue saying that we need freedom of religion and freedom of conscience laws, that’s offensive. That’s saying that those of us who believe in equality have no conscience and that’s incredibly offensive.”

The ink on the judgment is barely dry and we’re already seeing the forecasts of the dissenting opinions from US Supreme Court judges being fulfilled.

Judge Samuel Alito said that the ruling “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy”.

“I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools”, he said.

Justice Clarence Thomas raised the specific issue of religious liberty, warning that conflict could arise when people are “confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples”.

Obergefell’s illiberal comments are only just the beginning.