As forces on both sides of the gay marriage debate prepare for the fall veto session of the Illinois General Assembly, a recent U.S. District Court ruling may prove one side's argument that passage of SB10 (the gay marriage bill) could be a "litigious nightmare" resulting in restrictions on free speech and religious liberty.
In his decision last month in the case of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) v. Lively, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Ponsor found that Scott Lively, an evangelical pastor, was “aiding and abetting a crime against humanity” when Lively spoke in Uganda and in America against homosexual behavior.
Ponsor wrote in his 79-page opinion that Lively’s message was “analogous to a terrorist designing and manufacturing a bomb in this country, which he then mails to Uganda with the intent that it explode there.” A 1994 Clinton appointee, Ponsor held that Lively, by publishing tracts and delivering discourses condemning same-sex relationships, was acting as “an upper-level manager or leader of a criminal enterprise.”
“I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue,” Lively told the New York Times.
Chilling speech — religious or political — is a dangerous gambit for the establishment, but one that pays off handsomely when used against those individuals who stand outside the collective and oppose the current cultural zeitgeist.
The ruling against Lively may foreshadow future actions by Illinois courts and the state's Human Rights Commission should gay marriage become legal in Illinois. Opponents of same-sex marriage say there is already ample precedent in Illinois and other states to warrant caution by state lawmakers as they grapple with the issue.