With Vermont having become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through the legislative process rather than the courts yesterday, social conservative groups have a potential problem on their hands. Though it might take a while before other states follow Vermont's lead, its legislature almost certainly won't be the last to take this kind of action, and it will be very hard to apply the "activist judges" argument to a legislature. So it's time for a new tack.
On Wednesday, the day after the vote in Vermont, the National Organization for Marriage -- a group opposed to same-sex marriage -- launched a new ad campaign that could be a preview of the strategy to come. In its announcement, the organization says the campaign is "designed to raise awareness of the religious liberty implications of same-sex marriage legislation" and discusses what it claims are some of these implications:
Already, Boston Catholic Charities has been denied its adoption agency license because of their religious beliefs concerning marriage and the welfare of children. A New Jersey church group has been denied property tax exemption because they cannot in good conscience permit civil union ceremonies in church facilities. And individual service providers have been forced to choose between their faith and their profession. Religious liberty experts have said that these sorts of conflicts just scratch the surface of what we are likely to see if same-sex marriage becomes widespread.
The group's ad, dubbed "Gathering Storm," is similarly alarmist. It features people who say they've been personally harmed by the approval of same-sex marriage, and begins with some of them saying, "There's a storm gathering. The clouds are dark, and the winds are strong, and I am afraid. Some who advocate for same-sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same-sex couples. They want to bring the issue in to my life. My freedom will be taken away."