Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gay Rights and Religious Freedom

I never cease to be amazed by the level of alarmism that springs up anytime there's some sort of victory for gay rights. The latest example comes to us courtesy of the California Supreme Court's decision that the state has to allow gay marriage. This prompted the LA Times op-ed titled: Will Gay Rights Trample Religious Freedom? The piece ends with the author writing, "it is religious rights that are likely to be 'obliterated' by an emerging popular majority supporting same-sex relationships."

Really? Allowing same-sex marriage is goiong to obliterate religious freedom?

The courts have always held that you're allowed to believe what you want but that your actions must be in accordance with the interests of society as a whole. In other words, you can believe as fervently as you wish that human sacrifice is the path to heaven and there's no problem. Once you decide to start actually sacrificing humans, there's a big problem.

The same situation stands here. Churches can believe and preach that homosexuality and same-sex marriages are wrong. They can refuse to perform those ceremonies. However, the court has said that the churches that refuse to do so cannot dictate terms for those that are willing. Furthermore, the state must honor those marriages that do take place.

Rather than limiting the religious freedom of those churches that will not perform same-sex marriages, this ruling broadens religious freedom for those that are willing. That's not quite as catchy as claiming the obliteration of religious freedom, but it does have the distinction of being true.

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