Barbarians At The Library Gates
Today in Washington, there's a showdown at the Supreme Court between religious liberty and gay rights. A friend in Washington writes:
So I walked down to the Library of Congress to get some rare art history books by the leading scholars of the past hundred years explicating the Tres Riches Heures — one of the greatest artistic products of late-medieval Christianity.
The first photo is the reading room I’m sitting in right now, with the benefit of the worlds largest collection of books, extremely helpful librarians, and advanced IT that delivers them to my desk in this room without charge. It is like a synecdoche for the glories of Western Civilization.
That photo is at the top. Here is the second photo:
My friend continues:
The second photo is what I randomly walked by one block from here in which Satanists were signing the national anthem through loudspeakers in front of the Supreme Court.
I don’t know what to make of it, really. It just doesn’t seem like a stable foundation.
No, it's not. Something's got to give -- and will, sooner than we think.
By the way, from the NYT's liveblogging of the oral arguments:
Justice Alito asks the Colorado lawyer a question that seems to have divided the liberal and conservative justices on this issue: Is it fair to equate opposition to same-sex marriage with opposition to interracial marriage? The lawyer says it is fair to equate them.
Justice Jackson says she’s “perplexed” by the questions that attempt to draw a distinction between discrimination that’s based on sexual orientation and discrimination based on race.
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Why is this hard? Race has no moral dimension. Sex -- heterosex, homosex, whatever -- inescapably does, at least for Christians (and Orthodox Jews, and Muslims). It is very, very easy to demonstrate from authoritative Scripture and longstanding tradition that homosexuality is proscribed in these religions. You have to work very hard to find warrant in either Scripture or Tradition for a divine mandate to discriminate racially. The fact that some Christians in past eras did it (e.g., the Jim Crow South) does not mean there is clear teaching in Scripture justifying that practice. A prohibition on homosexuality appears on many occasions in the Bible, and consistently throughout the 2,000 year history of Christianity. Besides, a man and woman of different races marrying are still joining together a male and a female; the differences between them are literally only skin deep. A marriage between two men, or two women, is not even the same kind of thing.
Justice Jackson may not appreciate the distinction, but she is being asked to judge whether or not it is reasonable for a person of faith to decline to serve a gay person, given how deep and how widespread that belief is, and has long been, within that person's religious tradition.
Plus, Justice Jackson may accept that one's sex is not a significant factor in terms of drawing a moral distinction, but this is a radical opinion that nobody would have held until recent times. That doesn't make Justice Jackson wrong (though I believe she is), but it does call into question her good faith in saying that she doesn't understand why people would say same-sex marriage is unlike interracial marriage. Was she born in 1990?