Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Swallow your conscience"

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review a lower court decision involving the right of two Christian doctors to refuse to artificially inseminate an unmarried lesbian woman. An lower appellate court had held that the doctors could introduce evidence that they refused to perform the procedure because she was unmarried which, in its view, would be a defense to charges of violating California's civil rights law. The lesbian plaintiff, represented by the Lamda Legal Defense and Education Fund, appealed.

As for freedom of conscience in California, the case may not be as important as it seems. The doctors' victory in the lower appellate court was predicated, at least in part, on the fact that at the time that they refused to perform the procedure, California's civil rights law had been interpreted not to apply to marital status. It does now and I presume that one of the questions that the Supreme Court will take up is whether that is retroactive. The point is that, unless the court recognizes a free exercise defense (something that it would probably have to do on the basis of the state, not federal, constitution, given current First Amendment case law), doctors will have to toe the line in the future.

So much of modern liberal thought privileges equality over liberty. It is apparently not enough that legal burdens are lifted from gays and lesbians. Any vestige of traditional attitudes must be ruthlessly extirpated. There is, as I blogged earlier this week, no room between toleration and acceptance.

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