The Beginning to the End?
The problem with gay marriage is not about gay people getting married -- they've already been doing that, or living that way. The problem with gay marriage is not that it will redefine marriage into a less valuable social institution in the eyes of the populace -- that is already happening, has been for decades, and will continue regardless of whether gays are added to it or not. And the problem with gay marriage is not about the slippery slope of what comes next -- though yes, the legal battle over polyamory and polygamy is inevitably coming, as the principle of marriage equality demands it does (these relationships already exist below the radar, albeit with more poly than amory involved -- of the 500 gay couples followed in the respected San Francisco study, about half of the partners have sex with someone else with their partner knowing).
No, the real problem with gay marriage is that the nature of the marriage union is inherently entwined in the future of the first line of the Bill of Rights: our right to religious liberty. Orthodox believers of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths were slow to understand this. I'm talking about something much bigger here than the discrimination lawsuits brought across the country against bakers and photographers: I'm talking about whether churches will be able to function as public entities in an era where their views on sin, particularly sexual sin, are in direct conflict with not just opinion but the law -- and proselytizing those views from the pulpit or in the public square will be viewed as using the protection of religious expression to protect hateful speech...
So the real issue here is not about gay marriage at all, but the sexual revolution's consequences, witnessed in the shift toward prioritization of sexual identity, and the concurrent rise of the nones and the decline of the traditional family. The real reason Obama's freedom to worship limitation can take hold is that we are now a country where the average person prioritizes sex far more than religion. One of the underestimated aspects of the one out of five Americans (and one out of three Millennials) who are now thoroughly religiously unaffiliated is that, according to Barna's research, they aren't actually seekers. They're not looking or thinking about being part of a community focused on spirituality, in prayer, fellowship, worship, or anything else. Their exposure to faith is diminished because they want it to be.
In a nation where fewer people truly practice religion, fewer people external to those communities will see any practical reason to protect the liberty of those who do. The world could in time come full circle to Mrs. Campbell's old line: You are free to believe, as long as you don't do it in the streets, so as not to frighten the horses.
- Benjamin Domenech, 'The Future of Religious Liberty.'