Ronald F. Fischer, Grand Forks
Our country's history reveals that many of the original settlers to the United States came here in order to enjoy religious freedom. They came from European countries that had enshrined various religions as state mandated, thus persecuting anyone of a different belief. Our founding fathers recognized the importance of religious liberty by enacting the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which on the one hand forbids the establishment of a state religion, but, on the other hand, guarantees religious liberty by stating that the government shall be prohibited from enacting any law impeding in any way the freedom to practice one's religious beliefs.
What should not escape notice in the current battle for "gay rights" in the United States is the slow death of religious liberty. Arizona is the current battleground state with many more battles, no doubt, on the way. The Arizona legislature recently passed a bill that would have protected anyone from being forced to do something which violated his/her firmly held religious beliefs. The law was aimed at, among other things, protecting business owners from being sued for alleged violations of civil rights when a business owner refused to provide services to someone because they were gay, when in doing so would violate the religious beliefs of the business owner. The motivation for those sponsoring the Arizona bill stemmed from successful lawsuits around the country by gays suing photographers, cake makers and florists who refused to provide services for gay weddings because the concept of gay marriage violated the Bible and their church's teaching.
Under extreme pressure and bullying tactics from many outside interest groups, the Arizona governor vetoed that bill stating it would cause more problems for the state (meaning adverse media attention and continued attacks from gay extremists) than it would solve.
And so there you have it. One more nail in the coffin for religious liberty in this country. We have now reached a point in the United States where legitimizing marriage for two people of the same sex trumps the First Amendment right to religious liberty. One can only wonder how long it will be before even articulating publically that a person believes gay sex is a sin, as Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson recently did, or that marriage should only be between one man and one woman, will result in a jail sentence or worse.