Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gay rights vs. religious liberty

“It’s going to be a train wreck,” says Marc Stern, general council for the American Jewish Congress. "Banned in Boston; The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty” by Maggie Gallagher (Weekly Standard, May 15, 2006) is an article that every Christian, Jew and Muslim in America who is still faithful to their traditional values needs to read in full. Excerpts appear below:

“Catholic Charities of Boston made the announcement on March 10: It was getting out of the adoption business. “We have encountered a dilemma we cannot resolve. . . . The issue is adoption to same-sex couples.”

“It was shocking news. Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation's oldest adoption agencies, had long specialized in finding good homes for hard to place kids.”

“Marylou Sudders, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said simply, "This is a tragedy for kids.”

“So who is right? Is the fate of Catholic Charities of Boston an aberration or a sign of things to come?”

“I put the question to Anthony Picarello, president and general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.”

“Just how serious are the coming conflicts over religious liberty stemming from gay marriage?”
“The impact will be severe and pervasive," Picarello says flatly. "This is going to affect every aspect of church-state relations.’ Recent years, he predicts, will be looked back on as a time of relative peace between church and state, one where people had the luxury of litigating cases about things like the Ten Commandments in courthouses.”

“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…”
“By contrast, the scholars who favor gay marriage found it relatively easy to foresee looming legal pressures on faith-based organizations opposed to gay marriage…”

“Chai Feldblum…is a Georgetown law professor who is highly sought after on civil rights issues, especially gay civil rights.”

“…the bottom line for Feldblum is: "Sexual liberty should win in most cases. There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases the sexual liberty should win…”

“Marc Stern has known Chai Feldblum since she was eight years old…Chai is among the most reasonable [gay rights advocates],’ he says. ‘If she's having trouble coming up with cases in which religious liberty should win, we're in trouble.”

“As general counsel for the American Jewish Congress, Marc Stern knows religious liberty law from the inside out….Consider education. Same-sex marriage will affect religious educational institutions, he argues, in at least four ways: admissions, employment, housing, and regulation of clubs. One of Stern's big worries right now is a case in California where a private Christian high school expelled two girls who (the school says) announced they were in a lesbian relationship. Stern is not optimistic. And if the high school loses, he tells me, ‘then religious schools are out of business.’ Or at least the government will force religious schools to tolerate both conduct and proclamations by students they believe to be sinful.”

“Future conflict with the law in regard to licensing is certain with regard to psychological clinics, social workers, marital counselors, and the like," Stern wrote last December--well before the Boston Catholic Charities story broke.”

“Will speech against gay marriage be allowed to continue unfettered? ‘Under the American regime of freedom of speech, the answer ought to be easy," according to Stern. But it is not entirely certain, he writes, "because sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace principles will likely migrate to suppress any expression of anti-same-sex-marriage views.”
“Jonathan Turley, the George Washington professor who is a First Amendment specialist, also sees a serious risk ahead.”

“Precisely because support for marriage is public policy, once marriage includes gay couples, groups who oppose gay marriage are likely to be judged in violation of public policy, triggering a host of negative consequences, including the loss of tax-exempt status.”

“Marc Stern is looking more and more like a reluctant prophet: ‘It's going to be a train wreck,’ he told me in the offices of the American Jewish Congress high above Manhattan. ‘A very dangerous train wreck.”

Excerpts from "Banned in Boston; The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty” by Maggie Gallagher (Weekly Standard, May 15, 2006)