The Implications of Religious Liberty

The Implications of Religious Liberty

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2388-8.ch006
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Abstract

The political terrain surrounding the legalization of same-sex marriage and the need to accommodate individual's faith based objections have been part of the public discussion since the passage of initial marriage equality statutes. These exemptions played an important part in the bill's passage and have gone largely unquestioned from proponents of marriage equality. This chapter discusses the heightened lawmaking efforts by opponents insisting on broad protection measures for religious claims based on opposition directed towards homosexuality. This Chapter discusses the resulting tension between religious freedom and marriage equality.
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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…. ~ U.S. Constitution

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Background

As the public awaited the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, (2015) the country braced itself for the next wave of an ongoing “kultur kampf”—the cultural war—in the name of religion and against LGBT1 rights (Meckler & Campoy, 2015). On June 26, 2015, the Court issued an historic decision, which extended the constitutionally protected fundamental right to marry to same-sex couples (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015). Although advocates cheered the Court’s landmark decision, the social, religious, and moral debate is far from over (Fausset & Blinder, 2015). Having lost in the Court, same-sex marriage opponents have sought legislative remedies to ensure that their religious view of morally is protected.

Long before the Court announced its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), legislative opponents of same-sex marriage sought to minimize or block the aftershock the decision favoring same-sex marriage rights. These legislative responses took center stage at the state level, by either extending or sponsoring state mini Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2015). Although many states had existing RFRA statutes, other states adopted laws are far more protective of religious freedom than the federal RFRA. These legislative efforts include state laws blocking local efforts to pass nondiscrimination ordinances that extend antidiscrimination protections to the LGBT community. The backlash to the Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) decision is real the opponents of same-sex marriage have altered their battle strategy. Invoking religious freedom, instead of defending their right to discriminate, they now claim to be the victims of discrimination. Tennessee Republican State Representative Susan Lynn, a Southern Baptist passed House Joint Resolution 529 stating:

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