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The Indiana Religious Tolerance Act: 'Solidly in the mainstream of the tradition of American religious tolerance'

Long-time gay "marriage" supporter Michael Barone points out that the Indiana religious tolerance law is 1)substantially identical to the Religious Freedom Act, passed almost unanimously by Congress in 1993 and signed by President Clinton; and 2)firmly in the mainstream of the American tradition of religious toleration.

A key observation:

... The First Amendment, ratified in 1790, guaranteed Americans the "free exercise" of religion. The Framers knew that their new republic included Quakers, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, atheists, even perhaps a few Muslims. They wanted all to be free to live -- not just worship, but live -- according to their beliefs.

Opponents of the Indiana law point to horrifying hypotheticals. Restaurants won't serve gays; large corporations won't hire them, and so on. But mass anti-gay discrimination seems extremely unlikely. What is on the opponents' minds, apparently, are the cases where gay couples have successfully sued bakeries and florists who refuse to provide services to same-sex weddings. These litigants, they believe, should not lose.

As someone who has publicly supported same-sex marriage longer than President Obama or Hillary Clinton, I would put this in broader perspective.

My observation is that very large majorities of those on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue, and the very large number who have switched from anti- to pro- over the last decade, take the positions they do out of good motives. They believe that their views would be better for individuals, families and society.

Only handfuls base their stand on hatred of gays or hatred of those who believe in traditional or religious concepts of marriage. Most people on both sides want what they think is best for others.

The traditional American recipe for handling such differences is friendly accommodation. The large majority of Americans in the early republic, as today, did not believe in the pacifism of Quakers or the bishops of Episcopalians, the catechism of Catholicism or the rituals of Judaism. But they didn't begrudge others their beliefs.

Contrary to the bizarre argument of the cultural Left, the law does nothing more or less than safeguard the right of people to personally comport themselves in accordance with their own beliefs. It imposes absolutely nothing on others, including gays. In fact, it's pretty much "on all fours," as the lawyers say, with the practice of allowing Quakers and Mennonites to be conscientious objectors back in the days of the draft.

Whatever lack of good will is being shown where this issue is concerned is displayed by those unwilling to respect the fact that others disagree with what is nothing more or less than a disagreement about ethics and do not want to be compelled themselves to act in a matter they consider unethical. The only "discrimination" involved is a reluctance to personally act contrary to one's own conscience.


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