Same-sex Marriage and Religious Liberty

Special Report - July 15, 2008
The legalization of same-sex “marriage” will most certainly impact the religious liberties of people of faith who believe that homosexuality is wrong, according to a panel of legal, academic and policy experts who participated in a Family Research Council (FRC) event last week. The panel discussion, held July 10 in Washington D.C., focused on the impact of the recent California Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage on religious liberty. Panelists included experts on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate, including Georgetown University Law Center professor and lesbian activist, Chai Feldblum, who favors the ruling, and Kevin “Seamus” Hasson, president of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, whose organization opposes judicial involvement in the issue.

“The implications are profound,” warned Mr. Hasson, who emphasized that the Beckett Fund is only concerned with the religious liberty implications of same-sex marriage. He noted that in a forthcoming book on the issue from the Beckett Fund “all the scholars across the board pointed out that [same-sex marriage] will be very expensive in terms of religious liberty.” He warned that it is “only a matter of time” before the California ruling impacts areas such as student housing at private universities, the hiring practices of Christian business owners, and the activities of religious charities, such as adoption agencies.

Professor Feldblum, who described herself as a “practicing lesbian” and noted that her views are not the norm in the homosexual rights community, admitted that “there will be some issues of conflict” between same-sex marriage and religious liberty, although she said it is “unlikely” that American churches will be forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Another member of the panel, Benjamin Bull of the pro-family Alliance Defense Fund, argued that one of the problems with the California ruling is “what radical homosexual activists will do with the new institution of same-sex marriage, in using it as a battering ram across America to blast open new areas that ultimately will diminish—it will shrink the rights of Christians to express their faith in their lives, in how they live.”

During the event, FRC also released the results of a national poll that questioned Americans about the impact of state marriage amendments on their vote for president. The poll, which was conducted by Wilson Research in June, asked respondents: “As you may know, several states have measures on the November ballot to amend their state constitutions to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports those amendments?” According to the results, 58 percent of those polled said they would be more likely to vote for a president who supports statewide marriage amendments, compared to 29 percent who said they would be less likely to do so.

Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.

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