Getting battle-ready

I was in the middle of my morning habit, reading the daily paper. The print edition. I can’t read the electronic versions. That’s like trying to pray the Rosary without the beads.

Back in the Entertainment section was a report on a protest. According to The Associated Press, GLAAD — a gay rights’ pressure group — was enraged by a show on TLC cable channel planned for the evening. The show was called “My Husband’s Not Gay” and presented a portrait of a Mormon family — husband, wife and two young daughters. The gimmick was that the father admitted to having first been attracted to men. However, he has put that attraction aside because of his Mormon faith and because he wanted a family.

In this new age of tolerance, what can’t be tolerated is any violation of the gay canon. “No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to,” GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis is quoted as saying in the story.

Which is an odd position to take since the husband in the story loves his wife and his daughters. But according to GLAAD, he apparently can’t. And shouldn’t.

The GLAAD thought police called the show “dangerous” and wanted TLC to “pull the plug on the program before it premieres.” TLC declined.

Protesting stuff on cable stations is a battle most people of faith gave up a long time ago. Good Lord, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — it isn’t about Indy cars — is regularly broadcast on cable. Morally offensive programming is not just normative but exploited on cable to boost ratings.

But this new age of tolerance is quick to silence people of faith, institutions of faith and ideas of faith. And the Supreme Court is about to unleash the worst of it. In mid-January, the Supreme Court announced it would hear four cases that essentially could determine a constitutional right to gay marriage by the end of June. Most observers agree that the chances that gay marriage will not be imposed universally in the United States are slim to none.

“It’s hard to imagine how the essential meaning of marriage as between the two sexes, understood in our nation for over 200 years, and consistent with every society throughout all of human history, could be declared illegal,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ committee on marriage.

Hard to imagine, but very likely.

Once that constitutional “right” is established, religious institutions that uphold the traditional understanding of marriage — the Catholic Church, for example — will soon face a legal and legislative tsunami.

The Church will be a target from the courts to city councils. Everything from the Church’s ability to hire teachers or conduct social services will be under fire for violating the gay canon in its practices.

A parish will find out that it can no longer rent out the church hall if it refuses to host a gay wedding party, while its local property tax exemption will be threatened for not blessing gay marriages.

An individual’s right to freedom of conscience about the meaning and purpose of marriage will be over. Already, individuals are being forced to deny these beliefs in order to engage in commerce in states where gay marriage exists. Once it is a constitutional “right,” even minimal protection of traditional beliefs on marriage will disappear. Exaggerating? I doubt it. After all, GLAAD will need something to do.

At least we can take comfort in one basic understanding. No court decision will ever be able to create a sacrament by judicial fiat.

Or force us to watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Robert P. Lockwood writes from Pennsylvania.