Gay marriage and religious liberty ctd.
“E.D., please note, is a supporter of same-sex marriage, and believes the Catholic Church is very wrong to oppose it. But he’s starting to see that gay marriage really is a threat to religious liberty. Read him here, here, and finally here.” ~ Rod Dreher
I have all the respect in the world for Rod Dreher, but I think he’s reading too much into my position here. I don’t see gay marriage as a threat to religious liberty in and of itself. I think any serious political issue like this – where the issue of granting rights is at stake (I don’t like the phrase “granting rights” but I’m at a loss for something better) – anyways, this sort of conflict can be tricky if it also involves potentially infringing upon another group’s rights in the process. Handled poorly – as it has been in D.C. – the push for gay rights can pose a threat to religious liberty.
Handled properly, however, I think our system is the perfect one to preserve both. I don’t see churches being forced to marry gays in the future. I think that would be deemed unconstitutional rather quickly. Mark Thompson does a really bang-up job with the details of this here.
First, the conflict here is definitively not between gay marriage and religious liberty. It is instead between laws regarding private discrimination and freedom of association, or perhaps between licensing laws and freedom of religion….
What is important here is that to the extent there is a conflict between gay rights and the free exercise of religion, it is solely within the context of whether anti-discrimination laws writ large present an unacceptable conflict with the free exercise of religion. Same sex marriage, in and of itself, thus presents no greater a problem for religious liberty than does no-fault divorce. It is only laws that prohibit private discrimination in the first place that actually present a conflict with the free exercise of religion. It has also quite often been the courts who have had to step in and create exceptions to those laws to alleviate the conflict with religious liberty and freedom of association due to the legislature’s failure to adequately do so.
I’m glad Mark took the time to lay all this out, and you should read the whole thing because it goes into a ton of details that I didn’t excerpt.
My point in arguing over the religious liberty question last week was three-fold:
- first, to point out that there was a ton of spin going on in the press, essentially blaming the church when in fact it was the city threatening to pull contracts;
- second, to point out that religious liberty is also an important issue and one worthy of our support because no matter how you spin it, we are all of us effected by it whether we’re religious or not;
- and third, that gay rights advocates should be careful not to support measures that really do threaten religious liberty – it’s bad strategy, and risks small victories at the expense of later defeats.
I still support gay marriage and all that it entails. I still support religious liberty. I find no incongruence in this position.