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  • A Threat to Religious Liberty

    California’s Proposition 8 (Photo by Newscom)

    Tomorrow, voters in California, Arizona, and Florida will decide whether to approve amendments to the constitutions in those states that would define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. The amendment in California would overturn the recent decision of the California Supreme Court to impose same-sex marriage by judicial fiat despite a democratic measure supported by 61% of California voters that defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. The amendments in Arizona and Florida would preempt judicial decisions redefining marriage in those states.

    The citizens of California, Arizona, and Florida have very good reasons to be concerned about the security of their religious liberties once the traditional understanding of marriage is officially determined to be a form of unacceptable discrimination. Specifically, in states that redefine marriage to include same-sex unions, those who continue to believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman can expect to face three types of burdens:

    • First, institutions that support the traditional understanding of marriage may be denied access to several types of government benefits, and individuals who work in the public sector may face censorship, disciplinary action, and even loss of employment.
    • Second, those who support the traditional understanding of marriage will be subject to even greater civil liability under nondiscrimination laws that prohibit private discrimination based on sexual orientation, marital status, and gender.
    • Third, the existence of nondiscrimination laws, combined with state administrative policies, can invite private forms of discrimination against religious individuals who believe that marriage involves a man and a woman and foster a climate of contempt for the public expression of their views.

    Tomorrow, voters will confront questions about the nature and purposes of marriage itself. But the religious liberty harms associated with same-sex marriage must also be given full weight consistent with America’s long tradition of protection religious freedom as a fundamental human right. This tradition reflects the importance our society attaches to each person’s duty to honor his or her conscience and the role of religious freedom plays in securing the rights of all citizens—no matter their beliefs—to be free from undue coercion from the state. To the extent redefining marriage to include same-sex marriage threatens a robust commitment to religious liberty and the benefits that liberty secures to all society, the outcome of tomorrow’s marriage measures could have more significance than many people realize.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to A Threat to Religious Liberty

    1. VOTE NO says:

      Religious freedom will not be hampered if prop 8 fails. Religious discrimination is illegal in the U.S. At the same time religious organizations can deny couples the ability to marry in their tax exempt facilities if the couples are of a different religion.

      California: VOTE NO on PROP 8

      Florida: VOTE NO on PROP 8

      Arizona: VOTE NO on PROP 8

      Connecticut: VOTE NO on Question 1

    2. Pingback: Red County, California: The Heritage Foundation on Proposition 8

    3. KipEsquire, US Soil says:

      The only "burdens" champions of anti-gay discrimination will face are: (1) the burden of seeing their lust for theocracy thwarted; (2) the burden of knowing they're on the wrong side of history, and (3) the burden of having to apologize to their grandchildren, just as the conservative racists of two generations ago are doing today.

    4. frankg utah says:

      "lust for theocracy"

      Nope, just wanted freedom of religion. Freedom to worship privately and speak freely. Still expecting to see the term "marriage" wielded by the state and litigants as a weapon against people who DISAGREE with them. The "hater" and "bigot" smears only come off as a form of political intimidation. Disagreement does not equal hatred, except in the liberal spin machine.

    5. mikeEsq, US Soil says:

      KipEsquire, if you'd do just the smallest bit of research, you'd learn that it was the "racist" Democrats who voted against the Civil Rights amendment. Not to mention that it was Abraham Lincoln (A Republican) who freed the slaves. But then again, you're probably a product of the public education (or should I say liberal indoctrination) system of America.

    6. tony b, chicago says:

      If the debate is about equal rights, why then are Gay Rights activists not willing to accept Civil Unions as a means to accomplish equality? Why the insistence on the term Marriage? The reality is the term Marriage carries significant cultural and religious meaning to the majority of Americans. You may argue that all should be allowed the use of the term and thereby enjoy equal cultural and religious recognition. But the reality is; yours is an alternative lifestyle. Taking on the term Marriage will not make your relationship "mainstream". Instead it will diminish the cultural and religious significance of the term to all Americans. When I ask a male gay couple; if allowed to marry which one of you will be the wife. I always get the same answer; "neither one of us, we are not comfortable with using the terms husband and wife." My response is; I am not comfortable with a gay couple using the term Marriage. Why the fervor to join a club who'se rules you do not want to play by? Compromise, use the term Civil Unions and let the rest of us enjoy our traditions. But don't discriminate, we will have to let all other non-traditional relationships enjoy the same rights.

    7. Dennis Aderholt says:

      Remember what God said in the Bible, then look at America and see where we are headed.

    8. Stephen, Colbert Nat says:

      To Tony B: That's a valid argument but it brings in the whole "separate but equal" debate. The truth is that if you discriminate between two groups of people by separating them (or the way in which they express commitment in a romantic relationship), it is NOT true equality.

      To MikeEsq: Kip never said that the republicans voted against civil rights legislation. He said that it was the CONSERVATIVES. Back then, there were more conservative democrats and more liberal republicans at least as far as progress towards racial equality goes. Over time, it seems that the definition of conservatism has changed. Today, at least in fiscal policy, the term conservatism seems to inspire innovation and freedom rather than impede progress. I think you're the one who needs to do research.

      And I don't know what you're talking about. Liberal Indoctrination System? Public school? I am a sophomore at an all-girls Catholic school and most of our teachers positively spew liberal talking points and ideologies. Not that I mind. =].

    9. John, Georgia says:

      The behavior of the gay marriage activists is certainly putting the lie to VOTE NO's comment above. The activists are vandalizing churches, abusing churchgoers verbally and physically, and generally behaving in the same manner that they claim to suffer and claim to despise. Perhaps we should refer to this as a growing tyrannical "gayocracy". Freedom of religion, indeed.

      And no, this is not about civil rights. Marriage is the only thing being challenged here, and I seem to have missed where this is defined as a universal right between all who desire it. Brothers and sisters can't marry, nor can individuals have multiple spouses, among other marital arrangements. Gays can vote, have equal access to jobs and education, and can readily function in society. Their situation is in nowise comparable to the blacks, whose obvious and unchangeable skin color made them targets for brutal abuse and discrimination for centuries.

    10. Shawn Alley says:

      They are the people who are hateful. If you are not for gay marriage they would try to harm you in some way…. Im sorry God didn't ordain homosexuality neither do I.

    11. G. Leon, Townsend, G says:

      This country was founded for the rite to worship freely.The more rites given to the 5% who do not believe in God lessens the rites of the 95% of us who do believe.

      The deeper America falls from God the closer we come to our demise.

    12. W. Haley, Streetsbor says:

      The very ones who claim that their freedom is being denied because of religious standards in our culture are guilty of trying to deny religous freedom of belief and force their behavior upon those who believe it is wrong. They are the very ones who are trying to silence religious expression in our culture. Their view of freedom is really license to behave as they please. True freedom comes with an understanding that moral responsibility is a necessary companion to freedom. Otherwise, lawlessness and choas will threaten the wellbeing of the people living in such a culture. There is a choice that is given to every culture. Even if the reality of the choice is denied, every culture makes that choice between godliness and ungodliness, between morality and imorality. Let us return to making a wise choice as our Founding Fathers chose to do. Let us return to choosing leaders who understand that wisdom.

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