Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Gay rights and religious liberty

Maggie Gallagher (yeah, her again) has an interesting piece in the Weekly Standard on the impact of the movement for same sex marriage on religious liberty.

Gallagher explores the possibility that the advance of same sex marriage in particular and the gay rights agenda generally will lead to a legal regime in which it becomes unlawful for one to act on one's belief that homosexual behavior is immoral, in much the same way that it is unlawful for someone who says that his or her religion mandates White Supremacy, to act on that belief in interacting with others.

Commenting on a recent symposium hosted by the wonder Beckett Fund, Gallagher observes that those legal commentators "most opposed" to gay marriage were least likely to see greater legal protection and privileges for gays and lesbians as encroaching on the religious liberty of those holding a traditional religious view of homosexuality:

Generally speaking the scholars most opposed to gay marriage were somewhat less likely than others to foresee large conflicts ahead--perhaps because they tended to find it "inconceivable," as Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine law school put it, that "a successful analogy will be drawn in the public mind between irrational, and morally repugnant, racial discrimination and the rational, and at least morally debatable, differentiation of traditional and same-sex marriage." That's a key consideration. For if orientation is like race, then people who oppose gay marriage will be treated under law like bigots who opposed interracial marriage. Sure, we don't arrest people for being racists, but the law does intervene in powerful ways to punish and discourage racial discrimination, not only by government but also by private entities. Doug Laycock, a religious liberty expert at the University of Texas law school, similarly told me we are a "long way" from equating orientation with race in the law.

Gallagher notes, however, that proponents of gay marriage are more likely to forsee such a conflict. Of course, there are plenty of precursors of that conflict, such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts driving Catholic Charities out of the adoption business and the application of anti-discrimination laws to those who refuse to participate in the dissemination of gay-friendly messages.

Not all advocates of gay rights think this is a good thing. One of the most prominent, Chai Feldblum, makes the following trenchant point:

"It seemed to me the height of disingenuousness, absurdity, and indeed disrespect to tell someone it is okay to 'be' gay, but not necessarily okay to engage in gay sex. What do they think being gay means?" she writes in her Becket paper. "I have the same reaction to courts and legislatures that blithely assume a religious person can easily disengage her religious belief and self-identity from her religious practice and religious behavior. What do they think being religious means?"

There's more.It's worth reading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Catholic Charities of Boston was not driven out of business, as your post states.

The 42 member board of the Catholic Charities voted, UNANIMOUSLY, to continue considering the applications of qualified gay and lesbian parents.

The four bishops of Massachusetts did not agree with the opinion of these child welfare experts, and CHOSE ON THEIR OWN, to close adoption services.

A simple google search would have turned that up for you.