Conservatives love to play the victim, even when they are engaged in denying the rights of others. A group of conservative religious leaders have issued the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience. This declaration says “they oppose laws that would compel them to recognize gay unions or marriages, among other social issues.”
The document says, “We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.”
The document’s language also takes aim at other gay rights laws, including a recently approved law that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally recognized hate crimes and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would ban workplace discrimination against gay men, lesbians and transgender people.
Social conservatives have argued that such measures would have a chilling effect on religious liberties.
The declaration confuses the issues and clearly shows why we need separation of church and state to defend religious liberties. The point of changing the law to allow marriage equality is to provide gays the same right to marriage that the rest of us enjoy. While gays would legally be allowed to be married, this would not compel any church or religious institution to perform gay marriages, participate in abortions, or any other acts that violate their religious principles.
The principle of separation of church and state, which the religious right often denies, is what protects churches from participating in activities they oppose. In return, churches and other religious bodies not have the right to impose their religious views upon others.