When Sects Collide

One of Sullivan’s readers makes a good point:

The Unitarians have been marrying same-sex couples for some thirty years, and likewise some congregations of the United Church of Christ, the Metropolitan Community Church, and I’m sure a number of other religious groups I don’t even know. Why do the fundamentalists get to discriminate with the force of civil law against the U/U, the UCC, and the rest? When did they get the right to have their religious interpretation enshrined in civil law at the unavoidably explicit expense of the others’  interpretation?

Which is why government has to stay neutral on matters of religious doctrine.

Gay Marriage and Civil Society

Dueling and important articles from Rod Dreher and Andrew Sullivan on the gay marriage/Prop 8 backlash. Dreher:

I wish I believed gay folks felt the same way about us religious believers who sincerely, and not out of animus, hold to an ancient and venerable understanding of marriage, one that wasn’t questioned until practically yesterday. I wish they were as concerned about the meaningful loss of religious liberty at stake for believers as many of us believers are about the legal difficulties same-sex couples struggle with. 


If conservatism is to recover as a force in the modern world, the theocons and Christianists have to understand that their concept of a unified polis with a telos guiding all of us to a theologically-understood social good is a non-starter. Modernity has smashed it into a million little pieces. Women will never return in their consciousness to the child-bearing subservience of the not-so-distant past. Gay people will never again internalize a sense of their own “objective disorder” to acquiesce to a civil regime where they are willingly second-class citizens. Straight men and women are never again going to avoid divorce to the degree our parents did. Nor are they going to have kids because contraception is illicit. The only way to force all these genies back into the bottle would require the kind of oppressive police state Rod would not want to live under.

Dreher is getting beaten up in comments, even though his essay appeared at Culture11, a conservative site. A sample, attributed to reader John Gardner:

Retaliation breeds (hmm … how?) more retaliation: The theatrical director and the cafe owner have got a bunch of gay customers and colleagues who were hurt and offended. This wasn’t an ordinary issue to gay people. They had a civil right removed. I think you can expect a backlash; or, to put it differently, the answer to free speech is more free speech. What this ought to tell you is that Americans react badly to having their civil rights reduced or eliminated. We take our freedom seriously. It is not just some word in a textbook somewhere.