Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Anti-gay animus, or religious freedom?

In the wake of several deep-red states trying to pass laws that allow citizens to discriminate against fellow (gay) citizens because of "deeply held religious views", Andrew Sullivan gives us a metric of how to tell if this is animus, discrimination, or legitimate (if not legal) concerns about liberty:
So it also seems to me that the one demand we should make of such a defense of religious freedom is that it be consistent. For me, with devout Catholics, the acid test is divorce. The bar on divorce – which, unlike the gay issue, is upheld directly by Jesus in the Gospels – is just as integral to the Catholic meaning of marriage as the prohibition on gay couples. So why no laws including that potential violation of religious liberty? Both kinds of marriage are equally verboten in Catholicism. So where is the political movement to insist that devout Catholics do not have to cater the second weddings of previously divorced people?

For that matter, why no consideration of those whose religious beliefs demand that they not bless marriages outside their own faith-community? Do we enshrine the right of, say, an Orthodox Jewish hotel-owner to discriminate against unmarried couples who might be inter-married across faiths? Do we allow an evangelical to discriminate against Mormon couples, because their doctrine about marriage is so markedly different from mainstream Christianity’s?

It seems to me that the acid test for the new bills being prepared by the Christianist right with respect to religious freedom and marriage is whether they are discriminatory against gays and straights alike. Currently, they don’t begin to pass muster on that front. Until they do, the presumption that they are motivated by bigotry rather than faith is perfectly legitimate.

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