Faith organizations and individuals who view homosexuality as sinful and refuse to provide services to gay people are losing a growing number of legal battles that they say are costing them their religious freedom.
The lawsuits have resulted from states and communities that have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those laws have created a clash between the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of religion, religious groups said, with faith losing. They point to what they say are ominous recent examples:
– A Christian photographer was forced by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission to pay $6,637 in attorney’s costs after she refused to photograph a gay couple’s commitment ceremony.
– A psychologist in Georgia was fired after she declined for religious reasons to counsel a lesbian about her relationship.
– Christian fertility doctors in California who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian patient were barred by the state Supreme Court from invoking their religious beliefs in refusing treatment.
– A Christian student group was not recognized at a University of California law school because it denies membership to anyone practicing sex outside of traditional marriage.
The Heritage Foundation adds a couple more examples:
The post left out a Los Angeles City College student whose professor called him a “fascist bastard” and refused to let him finish his speech against same-sex marriage and Methodist ministry in New Jersey forced to end performing wedding ceremonies because they did not allow a same-sex union to be performed on their campground.
How does government endorsement same-sex marriage hurt those who believe in traditional marriage?
According to Heritage fellow Thomas Messner, it hurts us in 3 ways:
Specifically, in a society that redefines marriage to include same–sex unions, those who continue to believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman can expect to face three types of burdens. First, institutions that support the traditional understanding of marriage may be denied access to several types of government benefits, and individuals who work in the public sector may face censorship, disciplinary action, and even loss of employment. Second, those who support the traditional understanding of marriage will be subject to even greater civil liability under nondiscrimination laws that prohibit private discrimination based on sexual orientation, marital status, and gender. Third, the existence of nondiscrimination laws, combined with state administrative policies, can invite private forms of discrimination against religious individuals who believe that marriage involves a man and a woman and foster a climate of contempt for the public expression of their views.