May 20, 2016
Although the wave of battles now underway in several parts of the country over religious freedom laws and LGBT rights may come as a surprise to some people, it shouldn't. At least since last year's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, and probably longer than that, it's been clear that something like this was bound to happen.
Recall Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion in the Obergefell case holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. In that lengthy document Kennedy devoted a single paragraph to the rights of religious believers who disagree.
Such people, he said, "may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned." But what of that? The Constitution "does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex," he insisted.
Kennedy's words echo the secularist line that believers can believe whatever they want, but values grounded in religious faith must be overridden if they conflict with the utilitarian calculus underlying secularist policy goals.