Lessons from Canada: Changing Marriage Will Leave America Bereft of Liberty

By John-Henry Westen | June 18, 2015 | 1:26pm EDT
(AP Photo/Darryl Bush)

According to LGBT activists, legal and cultural acceptance of same-sex “marriage” – a scientific and natural law misnomer – is key to a cultural utopia. They seem to believe that if social conservatives can just be relegated to churches and the proverbial dustbin of history, America can reach a new height of equality and liberty.

However, the experience of Canada, and concerning goings-on in Europe and the United States, show that the opposite is true. Rather than maximize liberty, judicial activism at the Supreme Court will, with regards to marriage, usher in a period of reduced freedom.

Repression of free speech, property rights, and religion are already here

To many Americans, freedom of expression and speech are inviolable. However, this loyalty to liberty is being sorely tested, as states and localities make religious liberty illegal when it comes to the social promotion of same-sex relationships.

Consider, for example, how the liberties of business owners have been made illegal in New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and elsewhere as “non-discrimination” laws create state-sponsored discrimination against social conservatives.

Likewise, in 2012, New Jersey judge Solomon A. Metzger ruled against a Christian retreat house associated with the United Methodist Church that refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony to be conducted on its premises.

Most recently, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed fired fire chief Kelvin Cochran, a Baptist church deacon who expressed his personal religious beliefs on marriage in a Bible study publication.

And in Washington, D.C., the GOP-controlled Congress let the District of Columbia force religiously affiliated educational institutions to allow gay “rights” groups to use their facilities.

It’s not just America that’s seeing these problems. Civil Rights Research Center founder and president Brian Walsh told me that “in 2007, the Council [of Europe] asserted that its member states ‘must require religious leaders to take an unambiguous stand’ prioritizing other human rights ‘over any religious principle.’” While religious freedom has been narrowing for some time in nations like France, which bans any number of religious symbols, Walsh says that the restriction of religious liberty “is being accelerated by some absolutist views of LGBT rights.”

Here in the States, says Walsh, U.S. EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum believes that “a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty” can exist. However, Chai also believes that “in almost all cases,” the value of sexual liberty is greater than that of religious liberty.

Conflating sexual attraction and sexual action

Tremendous pressure isn’t just coming from governments. Mozilla Corp. co-founder Brendan Eich was forced to resign as CEO for contributing to Prop 8 six years before his ouster. Fox Sports football announcer Craig James was fired over remarks discouraging gay pride parades two years previous to his becoming a sportscaster, and in Indiana, death threats caused a family to close their pizza shop.

While private actors may generally act on their own volition when it comes to the treatment of customers, employees, and others, the treatment of James and Eich shows a significant misunderstanding of what marriage supporters want.

In the U.S., it is rightly illegal to refuse service to someone for their gender or race. Likewise, it should be illegal to deny service to someone because of their sexuality.

However, Eich, James, and the aforementioned business owners were not denying service over sexuality -- but, rather actions. They opposed assisting in immoral activities, not the people conducting those activities.

LGBT militants have done an excellent job of conflating choosable actions with sometimes unwanted sexual attraction – but they are not the same.

This distinction is critical if religious liberty is to continue to exist in America. In Canada and elsewhere, LGBT activists have done an excellent job of convincing the public, judges, and politicians that opposition to same-sex relationships is akin to racism – even though race is uncontrollable, and anyone can choose to, or not to, engage in a sexual relationship.

Furthermore, as I previously argued at CNS, promotion of chastity and general sexual morality is coming from a place of love and compassion for those who engage in empirically unhealthy behaviors.

In Canada and elsewhere, social conservatives failed to effectively convince the public of the compassionate nature of their position. This is why within a decade of Canada changing its legal definition of marriage a Catholic-owned Knights of Columbus hall was fined for refusing to host a homosexual wedding reception. Likewise, in 2005, Calgary Bishop Fred Henry was called before a Human Rights Tribunal for defending Catholic teaching on marriage.

Canada was one of the first nations to redefine marriage, which is why it has so many more violations of conscience and liberty than other nations. However, in France, mayors were told they could not refuse to preside over same-sex ceremonies. In Britain, a marriage registrar was denied liberty for her religious beliefs, just months after a government employee’s right to criticize marriage redefinition was ruled to be protected by courts.

In Spain, the terms “mother” and “father” were removed from birth certificates in 2006, and in 2012 three different political parties targeted a bishop for alleged “homophobia” for referencing Catholic doctrine on homosexual relationships.

Repression gets worse -- parental and children's’ rights stripped

For any parent, the idea that the government will stop you from raising your children is a horrifying one. In Canada, parental and children’s rights are violated daily as schools forbid parents from withdrawing their children from classes teaching the LGBT agenda. The most excessive of such programs in Canada saw the province of Quebec pass a law requiring an ethics and religious culture course that included a section on “equality of all families.” This law has been applied to private, public, and even homeschooled students and their parents.

When parents sued for their right to withdraw their children from such classes they were refused at the highest court, though a recent Supreme Court decision has ruled that a Catholic school could present their faith-based perspective on the material.

Children may be the most damaged by the same-sex “marriage” ideology. Marriage supporters say this frequently, and now this has been proven in studies by Catholic University of America research Dr. Paul Sullins and University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus.

According to Dr. Sullins, the data are clear – heterosexual parents are better for children. Likewise, Regnerus’ 2012 study “noted numerous suboptimal outcomes experienced by adult children who reported a parental same-sex relationship,” he told LifeSiteNews. Among the results were “the household instability experienced by such children, and the uncommon frequency of stably-coupled lesbian households with children in the era I was examining."

Only love can win the day

At the basis of the cultural shift which has led to the repression of freedom of speech and religion is a fundamental lie. It is falsely assumed and portrayed that the basis for opposition to homosexual ‘marriage’ is hatred of persons who experience same-sex attraction. In reality, the truth is the exact opposite.

In today’s world, there is no social benefit to publicly oppose same-sex “marriage.”  With the label of hater and bigot, it certainly doesn’t make you popular to live on this side of the cultural divide.

But it is a road taken, and that will be taken for love. Love for those experiencing same-sex attraction motivates us to tell them the truth – that LGBT sexual behaviors are gravely harmful for the body, psyche and soul. Just like promiscuous heterosexual sex and sex with multiple partners are dangerous and to be avoided, so too homosexual sex should never be given the societal encouragement of being regarded as “marriage.”

Yet in Canada, this ancient concept of “love the sinner, hate the sin” was rejected by the nation’s highest court. In a ruling crushing free speech of Canadians, the Court ruled against a zealous Catholic lay preacher who railed against homosexual acts. The man made it clear that his actions were motivated by his own experience of the harms of homosexual behavior, and thus his concern for those still in the harmful lifestyle, yet the Court fined him and ordered payments of crippling legal costs.

Most crucially, justices rejected the “love the sinner hate the sin” distinction. “Courts have recognized a strong connection between sexual orientation and sexual conduct and where the conduct targeted by speech is a crucial aspect of the identity of a vulnerable group, attacks on this conduct stand as proxy for attacks on the group itself,” the ruling said.

It’s our fault

The chief blame for this state of affairs falls not with unelected judges, nor even the purveyors of LGBT propaganda. It really boils down to 50 years of silence at the pulpits with regards to sexuality. This is contrary to how the sexual liberation dogma has been preached from every avenue and medium possible.

And the solution is to take up what we should have done in the first place: to preach the truth with love. Now that witness will be more difficult since more than just political incorrectness abounds – we may face fines and more overt persecution.

However, to avoid outright repression of freedom of religion and speech on these matters we must at least make the case that our opposition is based not in hatred but in love. Even if our ideological opponents don’t agree with us, at least they will have to concede that we are coming at it from an altruistic perspective based in objective truth.

And perhaps we’ll be able to save them from the self-inflicted harms of same-sex relationships.

John-Henry Westen is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of

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