One of the great things about America has always been freedom of speech. What a joy it is to be able to say or write something contrary to the government or popular opinion and still be safe and often respected. This week, Americans used this right by voting. Four states voted on gay-marriage. The majority in these states chose either to legalize gay-marriage or not to add an amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Gay-marriage has become a highly inflammatory issue, as proven this past summer with Chick-fil-a. Before and after the Chick-fil-a conflict, there have been some severe reactions to a difference of opinion concerning gay-marriage. This makes me wonder: Can freedom of speech continue alongside same sex marriage?
By now, most of us have heard of Angela McCaskill, an employee at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. After having worked at Gallaudet for over 20 years, she has now been placed on administrative leave because of pressure from some students and faculty. Her offense: She signed a petition in Maryland that added a referendum to the November ballet that asked voters in the state to vote yes or no in favor of “The Civil Marriage Protection Act”. A majority “yes” legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland beginning January 2013.
It doesn’t matter that as chief diversity officer, McCaskill, helped open a resource center for “sexual minorities” on campus. Her job is in trouble because she wanted the legalization of same-sex marriage in her state to be decided by the people. Gallaudet is a federally chartered university—which means it is funded by the federal government. If Gallaudet was a private university then it would be within the university’s rights to hire and fire employees for things such as incompatible political views. As a public school, Gallaudet University’s president, T. Alan Hurwitz, has breached the first amendment by putting McCaskill on leave for signing a legal petition.
John Fund, from National Review Online lists similar cases in his article, “The New Blacklist”:
Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, the state’s largest nonprofit performing-arts company, donated $1,000 to the “Yes on 8” campaign. Protests from the composer of the Broadway musical Hairspray and many other show-business people soon forced him to resign.
Similarly, Los Angeles Film Festival director Richard Raddon was forced to step down after it was revealed that he had donated $1,500 to “Yes on 8.” The festival’s organizer put out a statement saying, “Our organization does not police the personal, religious or political choices of any employee, member or filmmaker.” Behind the scenes, however, many of the festival’s board members pressured Mr. Raddon to resign.
Another incident happened in February when a 14-year-old homeschooler became the subject of cyberbullying, vicious name-calling, and death threats after testifying before the Maryland state senate against “The Civil Marriage Protection Act”.
More recently in Washington a volunteer working in support of traditional marriage, and a pregnant bystander, were confronted by an angry homosexual activist. The women had to call the police to end the confrontation.
And in Maine, Katelyn Daniels, a 14 year old girl wrote to the Portland Press Herald (Katelyn’s letter is the last on the page, scroll to the bottom to find it) describing what happened while her youth group—children 7 to 17—stood outsides with signs asking people to vote in favor of traditional marriage:
On one occasion, a middle-aged man with children in the back seat of his SUV deliberately drove up onto the sidewalk. He was dangerously near the children as he continued accelerating, plowing over 15 of our marriage signs and covering a span of more than 100 feet. The little ones were very scared.
He pulled off only to avoid hitting a telephone pole, and we saw him laughing as he sped away. The police chased after him and when confronted, the man claimed that he was “distracted.” Thankfully, a nearby store captured the entire crime on video.
On another occasion, a car drove by and the passenger leaned out the window, exposing his private parts. I was embarrassed by this lack of decency.
We children endured people calling us names, throwing things at us and hundreds upon hundreds of people sticking up their middle fingers and screaming X-rated profanities. And they call us hateful people?
Before there was any change in the law, these instances have had a chilling effect upon free speech. It makes one wonder who voted in favor of gay marriage out of fear of having his or her name published. And now, as more states legalize gay-marriage, one might ask how many people will be willing to risk a job or their personal safety to offer an opinion contrary to those supporting gay-marriage.
If same sex marriage were to be legalized throughout the United States would freedom of speech survive?