In the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, a disappointing response from the governor of my home state of Texas, Greg Abbott:
Marriage was defined by God. No man can redefine it. We will defend our religious liberties. #tcot
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 26, 2015
What social conservatives like Abbott fail to grasp is that the 1st Amendment was crafted to protect the rest of us from them. The Founding Fathers** understood all too well the Puritanical compulsion of certain denominations and faiths to seek to institutionalize the particulars of their religious beliefs in the civil laws that govern us all.
The 1st Amendment does not guarantee Greg Abbott the right to impose his definition of marriage on other faiths — and certainly not on the rest of society.
Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts on these sorts of Church-and-State issues were blunt:
When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.
I would substitute “denomination” for “religion” in Franklin’s quote, but endorse his overall point wholeheartedly.
Truth is, when the likes of Greg Abbott are squealing the loudest about “losing” their religious liberties, the 1st Amendment is working exactly as intended.
** The Founding Fathers, of course, were not of one mind. They were an eclectic bunch, divided into all sorts of factions: intellectual, geographical, religious, etc. And some, no doubt, would side with Greg Abbott today. However, those were not the Fathers who won the day when the wording of the 1st Amendment survived its final vote.