Why is it that same sex marriage is so important in the U.S.? Is it because a bunch of religious fanatics hate gay people? Is it because of the enlightenment brought on by the sexual revolution? Is it because denying this right is akin to the attitude of racists in the 1960s? Is it because a lot of people with outdated senses of morality have combined to oppress a lot of people with postmodern understandings of (i.e. no understanding) morality?
I would say no. I realized why the issue of same sex marriage is so important that those on each side of the issue are so adamant: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."
For instance, the city council in my town passed a resolution that forbids any employer within city limits to discriminate against a potential employee based on sexual orientation. Great. This is a hippy town, who would do that anyway? I have an answer to that question. When a church hires a pastor, unless it is Anglican, they discriminate based on sexual orientation. Is it now illegal in my town for a church to say no to a youth minister or worship leader solely because their religious beliefs agree that homosexuality is immoral and it would be wrong to hire a leader who lead that kind of lifestyle? I would say it is. And if it is not, then it very soon will be. A lawsuit will come up, and knowing this town, it will favor the stiffed potential employee over the religious organization.
That is a small case scenario. Now, take this on the national scale. Also, take this with a little more depth. The city council's action on that resolution has an equal and opposite reaction as stated above. When (and I say when, because I do not believe this is a question of "if") same sex marriage is nationally legalized it will give out a right to homosexuals. In the process of so doing it will remove a right from religious organizations. By religious organizations I refer to any and all: Christians, Islamics, Mormons, Jewish, you name it. It will remove freedom of speech because any nonprofit religious organization that speaks against homosexuality will be in danger of losing its tax exempt status. Same sex marriage will become a matter of public policy instead of private opinion. This will affect more of your life than you realize. Take abortion, for example, after it's legalizations hospitals run by religious organizations were required to perform abortions. While religious exemptions can be acquired, many lawmakers are unwilling to give them. Back to the issue at hand, religious organizations that have orphanages and do adoptions will be required to violate the tenets of their faith or lose their licenses. It will probably become a rule not to even talk about this issue in workplaces. Religion and the state will butt heads on this issue over and over.
Basically, this entire issue becomes an entangled mess. It would always come down to an issue of what is to win: the free exercise of religion, or freedom from discrimination. The church or the state. This would be especially true if discrimination against people for sexual orientation became equated with racism. There are all kinds of ramifications. I have only given a couple examples above. You can sit for hours and think up others if you like. Or you can draw this to its logical conclusion, as I have.
Faith will not be persecuted in the classic sense. There will be no martyrs. But it will be persecuted. And the way I see it, if my ability to believe the moral facets of my faith are stripped away and I cannot even speak about them, then I may as well have died.