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Same-sex marriage will impact religious liberty say experts

.- In a recent column, Newsweek religion editor, Peter Steinfels, discusses the opinion of several respected legal scholars, many of whom are proponents of same-sex "marriage", that the legalization of same-sex “marriage” will have an inevitable impact on religious liberty.

Steinfels, the former editor of Commonweal, contributed a commentary in Saturday’s New York Times, titled “Beliefs; Advocates on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue see a potential clash with religious liberty.”

In the article, Steinfels discusses comments made by several scholars during a conference last December, sponsored by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.  One attendee of the conference, Marc D. Stern, who has handled religious freedom cases for the American Jewish Congress for many years, said that clashes with religious liberty would be "inevitable," if same-sex “marriage” was legalized.

While Stern doesn’t believe clergy will be forced to perform marriages that are against the values of the faith group they represent, other programs or institutions-like schools, health care centers and social service agencies-that operate by religious standards will be impacted.

Steinfels referred to the decision of Boston Catholic Charities to withdraw from providing adoption services because the state license required placing children with same-sex couples.

Stern was joined by several scholars on the subject, including  Chai R. Feldblum, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and a proponent of same-sex marriage.

Feldblum agreed with Stern that religious liberty will be challenged. However, Feldblum holds, the dignity and equality of gay people should almost always outweigh considerations of religious freedom.

Arguments from the conference were initially reported by Maggie Gallagher and published in The Weekly Standard.  Steinfels says that in her report Gallagher observes that legal scholars opposed to same-sex marriage are more hopeful about overcoming the potential conflicts with religious liberty than those in favor of it.

While University of Chicago Law School constitutional scholar, Cass Sunstein did not attend the conference, he called the conflicts Feldblum and Stern's views point to "real and serious."  Sunstein told Steinfels that same-sex marriage does not raise new issues. Rather, it intensifies existing tensions "between antidiscrimination norms and deeply held religious convictions." He also said the first great impact will be in the political realm.

Many morally contentious laws contain exemptions for religious bodies or even for the personal moral beliefs of some professionals. However, these exemptions are being challenged in the courts.

Follow the link below for more on Maggie Gallagher’s article: <http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/191kgwgh.asp>


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