There's no escaping the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States legalizing homosexual marriage across their country. The media and the internet are saturated with coverage. Even Facebook has gotten into the act with people overlying their profile photos with rainbow flags. The number of people in the West who support heterosexual-only marriage continues to shrink rapidly and the issue becomes more of a liability for politicians than anything else. The question I wish to ask today is: what does it matter to us Jews?
On the surface of it, not much. The average homosexual, like the average heterosexual, isn't a rampaging crusader but rather just wants to lead a normal, quiet life. Attendance at gay marriages is still optional, not compulsory. Let them do their thing and leave us alone to do ours.
However, the threat to Judaism in the West isn't from the average heterosexual. In all other ethnic, religious and cultural communities there is a minority which can't stand the idea that their views are not the standard views across society.
The homosexual community is no different. That the state permits gay marriage isn't enough for this group. The idea that there are other communities out there that dispute the "enlightened" ruling of the court and continue to believe it's forbidden is intolerable to them. These are the people who look specifically for religious bakers and sue them in human right's court when they are refused a wedding cake. For these people the ruling will not simply be about getting married. They are in a state of cultural war with traditional religion because traditional religion opposes their important values and they can't tolerate that.
Look at it a different way. In more savage parts of the world culture wars are conducted at the business end of an automatic rifle. ISIL uses its military might to enforce it's version of Islamic law on its conquered subjects. You can be sure that prohibiting gay marriage is part of that cachet. In the West we don't fight that way. Instead of rifles we have lawyers and instead of tanks we have judges. The culture war is fought in a more civilized, genteel fashion, but the end result is the same: the winning side seeks to impose its values on the losing side and goes apoplectic when it fails.
The reason we need to care is because of this militant minority. There have already been cases where businesses being run by religious Chrisians have been targeted and legally attacked for refusing service to a gay couple seeking to get married. On one hand you can sympathize with the gay couple. After all, if you read a story in the paper about a Black man being denied entry into a restaurant because the management only wanted White customers you'd be justifiably outraged. On that level this is no different.
On the other hand, consider that in the cases involving gay couples the businesses made efforts to assist the couple by recommended alternative companies that would offer the same product at the same or an even better price. The response by the couples was uniform: We don't just want a cake. We want you to bake that cake. Why? If I went into a store and got the strong impression my patronage was not wanted because I'm Jewish I would take my money and recommendations elsewhere. I wouldn't double-down and insist that this business serve me. Why would I want them to benefit in any way? These couples did the opposite - they chose to punish the religious individuals financially and legally.
Small time, sure, but what happens one day when a gay couple walks into the local Orthodox shul and demands to rent the social hall for their wedding? What happens when a gay groom demands an aufruf?
Assaults on religious freedom have been protected by law until now because of the idea of freedom of conscience. Read the media now and the liberal lobby is already re-framing that argument. It's no longer about freedom of religion but about freedom from discrimination. You wouldn't tolerate an institution that forbid interracial dating so you soon won't have to tolerate a shul or church that forbids homosexual marriage. Imagine the day when someone looks at an Orthodox Jew applying for a job and says "We don't want people who don't support gay marriage working here".
Seen that way we as Torah-observant Jews might be a more precarious position than we think.