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The Chilling of Our First Amendment Rights



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The First Amendment is more than a legal guarantee. It is a culture — a key American value — which holds that in a decent and free society, law-abiding citizens should not face reprisals for speaking up with civility for the moral good as they see it.

Sen. Chuck Grassley’s remarkable opening statement in today’s Senate hearing on a bill to repeal DOMA called attention to a very serious and growing intolerance directed at Americans who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife:

The minority very much hoped to call a witness today at this hearing to testify in support of DOMA. I am sure she would have done an excellent job.

She declined, however, citing as one reason the threats and intimidation that have been leveled against not only her but her family as a result of her public support for DOMA. She will continue to write on this subject, but will no longer speak publicly about it. This chilling of First Amendment rights is unacceptable.

When Chris Johnson, a reporter from the Washington Blade, called and asked if that woman was me, I was at first amused. No, of course not. I am not refusing to make public appearances. I was not invited this time.  

But I could sympathize. I just returned from interviewing a Toronto sportscaster who was fired for tweeting that he believed “in the true and authentic meaning of marriage.” Next week, I will go to North Carolina to interview another man whose contract was terminated when the HR head of his company found out he had written against gay marriage.  

The death threats and hateful mail New York state senator Rev. Ruben Diaz says he has received are not unusual. Whole professions are in the process of being closed to anyone who espouses — and acts — on the view that marriage is the union of husband and wife.

Fox News is not covering this. Conservative media outlets, except for a few beacons such as NR, are virtually silent.

The underlying truth that “pro-equality” Republicans need to understand is this: They are aiding and abetting a political movement that, at this point in history, seeks to make traditional Christian views on sex and marriage unacceptable in the public square — just as racist views on interracial marriage are unacceptable — by heaping scorn and hatred on any American who does something to support marriage as one man and one woman.

The marriage debate is about redefining not only marriage, but the relationship between Judeo-Christian values and the American tradition.

I just wonder what these “pro-equality” conservatives think will be left to conserve after that.



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