After gay marriage ruling, try tolerance for both sides

When love wins, it doesn't take prisoners.

It has been more than a week since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, and already those with religious objections to same-sex marriage are facing punishment.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, an Oregon Christian couple who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013 (before gay marriage was legal in Oregon) were ordered Thursday to pay $135,000 by a state labor commissioner because of their refusal.

Just days after the Supreme Court decision on June 26, New York Times columnist Mark Oppenheimer wrote a piece for Time magazine suggesting that all religious organizations lose their tax-exempt status "rather than try to rescue (it) for organizations that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality."

Oppenheimer is no conservative fear-monger: The Obama administration's own solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, acknowledged in the Supreme Court hearing that religious schools could lose their tax-exempt status if the justices legalized gay marriage.

There is a better — and more loving — way: tolerance, coexistence.

Though I oppose gay marriage, I found the enthusiasm displayed on June 26 — the rainbow photos on Facebook, the cheering and the exultation that "#lovewins" — inspiring. It showed many Americans' thirst for justice and their determination that our country's laws reflect love and kindness. I disagree with them on what is just and loving, primarily because I think children deserve a dad and a mom, but it's heartening to witness so much moral energy.

"Love is patient, love is kind. … It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs," goes the Corinthians verse read at so many weddings.

Yet that is not the attitude being shown toward the Kleins, or those religious organizations that want to both stay true to their beliefs and continue receiving the tax-exempt status that allows them to contribute more of their funds to activities such as educating poor children, feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

Among those who back gay marriage, there has been almost complete silence on religious liberty. Few politicians or pundits have said that we need a society that respects all consciences, both those who support same-sex marriage and those who don't. Legislation introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, to protect religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage has been met with silence from those who support gay marriage.

America is not done with discussing marriage, as shown by the Montana polygamous trio who applied for a wedding license last week. "It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, who wants to legally wed the woman he views as his second wife.

Perhaps Collier's actions will renew interest in religious liberty. After all, surely some of those who support gay marriage are not comfortable with legalizing polygamy. Maybe they will now realize that they don't want to be forced someday into photographing a multiple-persons wedding or have their church lose its tax-exempt status over the issue.

When love wins, it doesn't do so by crushing people's consciences, by forcing them to adhere to what their beliefs tell them is wrong.

No one should understand this better than those in the gay marriage movement, who laudably and vigorously fought for decades, against public opinion and current laws, for what they believed was morally true: that any two adults should be able to legally marry.

They honored their beliefs all those years. Now, they should give those on the other side of the issue the ability to live in accordance with their beliefs.

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