Religious doctrine is NOT a basis for law
Despite having no faith of my own, I am fine with those who do. If you want to live your life according to the teachings of a holy book or religious leader, I’m fine as long as you cause me no harm. I honestly could not care less if you believe in no god or twenty, given none of those gods are telling you to hurt people. But it is a different issue entirely when you try to suggest that our laws should reflect the doctrines of your particular church.
The conservative argument against marriage equality has long been couched in talk about “harm to children” and “destroying traditional marriage”, but in reality it has always been based on a simple idea - my religion doesn’t approve of homosexuality, therefore our laws cannot condone it. As it has become more and more apparent that same-sex marriage causes no harm whatsoever, anti-equality forces have gotten more desperate.
Take this post at the Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog. Ostensibly about a new marriage equality law in Illinois, the author mentions the actual law only in passing before launching in a defense of marriage buttressed only by the words of a Catholic priest (who, incidentally, had some interesting things to say when a gay pride parade was moved to pass by his church). Does this priest have any special knowledge on the subject of marriage? It doesn’t appear so. His expertise clearly lies in one thing - the teachings and doctrine of his church.
Again, there is nothing wrong with a church teaching that gay marriage is wrong. I may disagree with them, but that’s just one of many reasons I’d never be Catholic. The problem is that this is entirely irrelevant when we’re discussing whether a law should be passed or not. We don’t live in the Vatican or in a country ruled by Sharia law. We live in a (mostly) free country that should be founded on values of tolerance and liberty. Some may hate this fact and wish we were a Catholic nation, but we simply are not.
And as for these fears about “threats to religious liberty”? There are none. Churches will never have to marry same sex couples, any more than they have to ordain female or gay priests. If you want this to be even more assured, you should be all for separating church and state even more - not bringing them closer together. It’s because we have this strange mix that these issues even exist. If the state never got involved in marriage to begin with, this whole debate might have never even happened.