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May 6, 2006

A Pervasive Point

In a piece in which Maggie Gallagher explores experts' opinions on the legal conflict that same-sex marriage will bring about between the church and state, Anthony Picarello eloquently restates a point that many of us have been making for years:

"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. In times of relative peace, says Picarello, people don't even notice that "the church is surrounded on all sides by the state; that church and state butt up against each other. The boundaries are usually peaceful, so it's easy sometimes to forget they are there. But because marriage affects just about every area of the law, gay marriage is going to create a point of conflict at every point around the perimeter."

Whether one believes that the line of compromise will be drawn in bold where direct public funding ends or one worries that it will one day be persmissible to discriminate against a religious individual based on statements of beliefs outside the walls of a darkly lit church, Gallagher's restatement of another point that many of us have long been making rings true:

From there, it was only a short step to the headline "State Putting Church Out of Adoption Business," which ran over an opinion piece in the Boston Globe by John Garvey, dean of Boston College Law School. It's worth underscoring that Catholic Charities' problem with the state didn't hinge on its receipt of public money. Ron Madnick, president of the Massachusetts chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, agreed with Garvey's assessment: "Even if Catholic Charities ceased receiving tax support and gave up its role as a state contractor, it still could not refuse to place children with same-sex couples."

This March, then, unexpectedly, a mere two years after the introduction of gay marriage in America, a number of latent concerns about the impact of this innovation on religious freedom ceased to be theoretical. How could Adam and Steve's marriage possibly hurt anyone else?

Because Adam and Steve's individual marriage is a red herring; the danger lies in the process and reality of making that marriage a legal possibility. Refer back to Picarello. Then refer forward to Chai Feldblum, "a Georgetown law professor who refers to herself as 'part of an inner group of public-intellectual movement leaders committed to advancing LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual] equality in this country'":

... 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 because that's the only way that the dignity of gay people can be affirmed in any realistic manner."

What of the dignity of religious people? Well, obviously, their bigotted views are a perversion. And religion is a choice, after all.

Posted by Justin Katz at May 6, 2006 11:53 AM
Marriage & Family