Yesterday, Mormon leaders announced a kind of via media on gay rights. In a public statement, leaders agreed to
…support legislation where it is being sought to provide protections in housing, employment and some other areas where LGBT people do not have protections, while ensuring that religious freedom is not compromised.
In other words, the church proposes to give a little in order to get a little. If I understand their statement of principles correctly, they are now willing to acknowledge sexual orientation as a protected class along with religion, race, and sex. They are willing to do this in certain “areas” of public life, so long as religious liberty is not curtailed in any way.
Negative responses to this announcement have come forth from all sides. Russell Moore said the move was “naïve,” and I agree with him. Any position that relies on the magnanimity of gay rights proponents is doomed to fail. Evidence of this comes this morning from Andrew Rosenthal in The New York Times, who rejects the Mormon compromise as an attempt to get “legal permission to use their religion as an excuse to discriminate.” Likewise, the Human Rights Campaign also rejects the substance of the Mormon proposal. In other words, the sexual revolutionaries are going to offer no quarter to the religious consciences of their fellow citizens. All claims to religious liberty must give way to the totalizing claims of the sexual revolution.
A few years ago, Robbie George wrote presciently of what was coming. He warned that the sexual revolutionaries would brook no compromise in their cause. He writes:
The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.” There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted. Perhaps parts of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs…
There is, in my opinion, no chance—no chance—of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve), that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree. Look at it from their point of view: Why should we permit “full equality” to be trumped by bigotry? Why should we respect religions and religious institutions that are “incubators of homophobia”? Bigotry, religiously based or not, must be smashed and eradicated. The law should certainly not give it recognition or lend it any standing or dignity.
George’s prediction has certainly proven true over the last few years. As popular opinion solidifies behind gay marriage, it’s difficult to imagine why the activists would make accommodations for the consciences of those they regard as bigots.
So I agree that the LDS position is naïve. We are not dealing with good faith opponents. The sexual revolutionaries are ready and willing to run roughshod over the consciences of those who disagree with their program. They are even willing to set aside the first amendment to do it. The LDS and every other supporter of traditional marriage need to come to terms with that.