Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty
In his “Beliefs” column in the NYT, Peter Steinfels writes about a recent conference of legal scholars that examined the potential impact of same-sex marriage on religious liberty:
Is same-sex marriage on a collision course with religious liberty? It wasn’t surprising that before the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage died in the Senate this week, several senators supporting it raised that danger.
But when highly respected legal experts on civil liberties, including ones favoring same-sex marriage, raise the same possibility, their concerns cannot be dismissed as partisan debating points.
Marc D. Stern, whose many years handling religious freedom cases for the American Jewish Congress have made him an expert in the area, can hardly be identified as a conservative agitator. Yet he firmly believes that legal recognition of same-sex marriage will make clashes with religious liberty “inevitable.”
“No one seriously believes that clergy will be forced, or even asked, to perform marriages that are anathema to them,” Mr. Stern has written. But for other individuals and institutions opposed on religious grounds to same-sex marriage, its legal acceptance would have “substantial impact.”
He has in mind schools, health care centers, social service agencies, summer camps, homeless shelters, nursing homes, orphanages, retreat houses, community centers, athletic programs and private businesses or services that operate by religious standards, like kosher caterers and marriage counselors.
Hat Tip: Mirror of Justice