Senator Mike Lee of Utah has become a champion for marriage and religious liberty. Last week, he gave an important speech at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center where he laid out the history and importance of religious liberty – noting that our constitution does not merely call for religious “tolerance” where diverse viewpoints are allowed, but it requires religious “liberty” and the freedom to live your life according to those beliefs.
He also discussed how the guarantee of religious liberty is being increasingly violated in various ways, including by radical anti-marriage activists who insist that supporters of marriage as uniquely between one man and one woman be punished and marginalized. Sen. Lee will be introducing legislation very soon to protect the right of Americans to be free of government harassment and punishment, legislation that will be a high priority for NOM.
Here are excerpts from his speech, courtesy of The Federalist:
We all know – and indeed, many of us are – individuals who have personally benefited from America’s commitment to religious liberty. But those benefits extend far, far beyond individual pilgrims’ progress. Every great social reform movement in American history – from abolition and Civil Rights, to the struggles for women’s equality and labor rights, to the pro-life movement today – has grown out of individual Americans’ religious convictions, and their constitutionally protected right to live them out. All Americans of all faiths – and those of none – have benefited equally from our nation’s unique commitment to religious liberty.
Religious liberty as it has been lived in America is not an accident of history, or a quirk of the law. It is nothing less than a culture-defining human achievement.
Yet recent events suggest it could be losing ground. The great American commitment to religious liberty and diversity may still be universally successful, but it is no longer universally shared. This turn toward intolerance, tragically, has been catalyzed by the campaign for legal recognition of gay marriages.
Like many Americans, I personally do not believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional requirement, or a federal prerogative, or even good policy for that matter. But today, those of us who hold these views cannot deny that our arguments are no longer winning the public debate.
Sometimes in a democracy, the other side wins.
Yet today, at the very moment this campaign appears to be on the brink of success – having appealed to the country with the principles of justice, tolerance, and equality – many within that movement find themselves tempted to abandon the principles and the people that have made them successful.
Most advocates of marriage equality are no more radical than most advocates of traditional marriage – just as most followers of Jesus are no more radical than most followers of Moses, Mohammed, and the Buddha.
. . .
We should never lose sight of the fact that the marriage equality movement is succeeding not by focusing on marriage, but by focusing on equality. Political conservatives and religious traditionalists may not like how the gay marriage debate is going. But it is no small thing that the gay marriage movement has succeeded in recent years only by adopting our principles – of tolerance, diversity, and equal opportunity.
It is those principles – not the parties currently enjoying their political resonance – that hold the high ground in this debate. And because those of us who believe in religious freedom hold those principles in our hearts – and not just in our political quiver – that high ground remains open to us.
The opportunity exists now – and it will expand if the Court rules as most expect it to – for Americans of good-will to come together to reinforce religious liberty, and to further protect and enrich the free space it inhabits.
To read the full text, please visit The Federalist.