Holy matrimony and civic unions -- Part II
Critics insist this protects mere "freedom of worship," not the First Amendment's wider "free exercise of religion."
Here is the parallel: In gay-marriage debates, almost everyone concedes that clergy must not be required to perform same-sex rites that violate their consciences.
The question is whether legislatures and courts will extend protection to religious hospitals, homeless shelters, summer camps, day care centers, counseling facilities, adoption agencies and similar public ministries.
What about religious colleges that rent married-student apartments or seek accreditation for their degrees in education, counseling or social work? What about the religious-liberty rights of individuals who work as florists, wedding photographers, wedding cake bakers, counselors who do pre- or post-marital counseling and other similar forms of business?
These are only some of the thorny issues that worry many activists on both sides of the gay-rights divide. Shortly after Connecticut legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, law professor Douglas Laycock, then of the University of Michigan, shared his support for religious exemptions in a letter to state leaders.
"I support same-sex marriage," Laycock stressed. Nevertheless, the "net effect for human liberty will be no better than a wash if same-sex couples now oppress religious dissenters in the same way that those dissenters, when they had the power to do so, oppressed same-sex couples.
"Nor is it in the interest of the gay and lesbian community to create religious martyrs in the enforcement of this bill. ... Every such case will be in the news repeatedly, and every such story will further inflame the opponents of same-sex marriage.
"Refusing exemptions to such religious dissenters will politically empower the most demagogic opponents of same-sex marriage. It will ensure that the issue remains alive, bitter, and deeply divisive."
(Terry Mattingly is the director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and leads the GetReligion.org project to study religion and the news.)
(c)COPYRIGHT 2012 United Feature Syndicate
DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL UCLICK FOR UFS
News Photo Galleriesview all
- 52918Oklahoma tornadoes: 'It took it all'
- 35454Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 32552Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 8890Wild hogs continue to be a growing menace across Oklahoma
- 7405Oklahoma State football: Limiting Wes Lunt's transfer options makes Mike Gundy look bad
- 5405Oklahoma City Thunder: What could Serge Ibaka learn from Hakeem Olajuwon?
- 4121OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti won't amnesty Kendrick Perkins