Religious Liberty: One Casualty in the War Over Marriage

One doesn’t have to look far to find examples of how redefining marriage and accepting same-sex unions has already limited religious liberty.

In Massachusetts, which grants same-sex couples marriage rights, the Catholic Charities of Boston was forced to choose between its religious convictions about marriage and placing orphaned children with same-sex couples. They chose to discontinue their adoption services rather than violate their principles.

Also in Massachusetts, public schools began teaching grade-school children about same-sex marriage, defending their decision by saying they were “committed to teaching about the world [children] live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal.”

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You might think Massachusetts parents could opt their children out of the course. You’d be wrong. An appellate court ruled that parents had no right to exempt their children from learning about same-sex marriage.

In Georgia a counselor was fired after referring a client in a same-sex relationship to another counselor. Owners of a bed and breakfast in Illinois were sued for violating the state’s nondiscrimination law when they refused to rent their facility to a same-sex couple for their civil union ceremony and reception.

In California doctors were successfully sued for refusing to inseminate a woman in a same-sex relationship. And in New Mexico the state’s Human Rights Commission prosecuted a photographer for declining to photograph a gay “commitment ceremony.”

These are just a few examples. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reports that “over 350 separate state anti-discrimination provisions would likely be triggered by recognition of same-sex marriage.”

Chai Beldblum, Georgetown University law professor and appointee to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sums up nicely, if not chillingly, the threat that redefining marriage has on religious liberty:

For all my sympathy for the evangelical Christian couple who may wish to run a bed and breakfast from which they can exclude unmarried, straight couples and all gay couples, this is a point where I believe the “zero-sum” nature of the game inevitably comes into play. And, in making the decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people.

It seems in the debate over the nature of marriage, not all rights are equal, especially the ones specifically stated in the Constitution . . . like the free exercise of religion.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @derrickjeter.

If you liked this article you can find more at, where you will also find information about my books, O America! A Manifesto on Liberty, A 911 of 9/11: Finding Answers to the Evil of September 11, 2001, and Our Day of Dependence: A History Lesson from Thanksgiving.


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