Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Walker gets First Amendment (and scope of SCOTUS ruling) all wrong

Rights are protected for ALL Americans, not just specific religious beliefs

Following the Supreme Court ruling that established the right of same-sex couples to receive equal marriage rights across the country, Gov. Scott Walker was deeply upset.

Calling the decision a “grave mistake,” Walker expressed that he would fight on against the ruling, and supports the push for an amendment allowing states the right to discriminate against gay and lesbian households.

Walker also made a lengthy statement about the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
Recognizing that our founders made our Constitution difficult to amend, I am reminded that it was first amended to protect our “first freedom” — the free exercise of religion. The First Amendment does not simply protect a narrow “right to worship,” but provides broad protection to individuals and institutions to worship and act in accordance with their religious beliefs.
It’s true that the First Amendment provides those protections. But for Walker, it seems as though he’s implying those protections aren’t also granted to same-sex couples.

There are several churches that proudly allow gay and lesbian parishioners to attend their services, and most of those churches will be marrying couples wishing to gain marriage rights. Are their First Amendment rights also protected, or is the “first freedom” narrower in Walker’s mind?

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution specifically stipulates that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Walker seems to like the second half of that clause, but takes no note of the first half, that no religion is established as law in the country. As such, his religious principles cannot define what is or isn’t state-sanctioned marriage.

His own church (and any other church that wishes to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples) is certainly free to restrict its membership and whom it marries; but the law cannot.

In fact, nothing in the Supreme Court’s decision says that churches can’t say no to same-sex marriage. That has always been the right of the church, and will continue on following this ruling.

But Walker seems to think that he is somehow the protector of that right. “No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience,” he said. “We will continue to fight for the freedoms of all Americans.”

Except, of course, for the freedom to marry the person you love. That’s a freedom Gov. Scott Walker, and most of his Republican nomination opponents, won’t fight to defend.

1 comment:

  1. Someone may want to ask the SKWalker if the first amendment also includes freedom of speech.