“Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both”
A group of strong advocates for gay marriage and gay equality has issued a vigorous statement promoting the right of dissenters to disagree.
A free society simply will include diverse views, the statement stresses. “We cannot wish away the objections of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith traditions, or browbeat them into submission.” “Sustaining a liberal society demands a culture that welcomes robust debate, vigorous political advocacy, and a decent respect for differing opinions. People must be allowed to be wrong in order to continually test what is right. We should criticize opposing views, not punish or suppress them.”
The statement, provoked by the great pressure that led to the resignation of Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla who had made a donation years before to the Proposition 8 campaign in California, notes that there is “no evidence” that Eich “believed in or practiced any form of discrimination against Mozilla’s LGBT employees.” “And it proposes, “[T]he consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job.”
This is a strong defense of the right to believe and speak views regarded by many in society, and even government, as wrong and damaging. It leaves unanswered an even harder question: what about the freedom of action of those who, because of their deep religious convictions, continue to hold those alternative views? Will our society respect their freedom of religious exercise-a freedom not only to believe and speak that alternative view of marriage historically taught by the “Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith traditions” but to live in accordance with those convictions in their organizations?