NewsFri Nov 14, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
With Homosexual ‘Marriage’ Christian Freedoms Will be Under Greatest Threat in Hawaii, Wisconsin
By John-Henry Westen
WASHINGTON, November 14, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new study by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has found that over 350 separate state anti-discrimination laws would likely be affected by the legal recognition of same-sex “marriage.” The organization surveyed over 1,000 state anti-discrimination laws—specifically those prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, or marital status—to assess how those laws would affect religious dissenters to same-sex “marriage” if same-sex “marriage” were to be legally recognized.
Based on the data, The Becket Fund concluded that if same-sex “marriage” is recognized by courts or legislatures, people and institutions that have conscientious objections to facilitating same-sex “marriages” will likely be sued under existing anti-discrimination laws, despite the fact that those laws were never intended for that purpose.
Based on an analysis of the laws and what has transpired in other jurisdictions with similar laws, such as Canada, the Becket Fund warned: "Lawsuits will likely arise when religious people or religious organizations choose, based on their sincerely held religious beliefs, not to hire individuals in same-sex marriages, refuse to extend spousal benefits to same-sex spouses, refuse to make their property or services available for same-sex marriage ceremonies or other events affirming same-sex marriage, or refuse to provide otherwise available housing to same-sex couples. This wide-ranging conflict between governments and conscientious citizens would take years of litigation to resolve, assuming that it could be resolved."
The study found that all 50 states prohibit gender discrimination in some way, and only 37 states have explicit religious exemptions to these provisions, many of them quite narrow. This lack of exemptions could become a problem if (as has happened in some instances) religious objections to same-sex “marriage” are treated as a kind of gender discrimination.
In addition, 33 states prohibit at least some discrimination based on marital status, and only 13 of these states provide religious exemptions, some with a wide latitude of exemption, others with only narrow exemptions. Of the 20 states that prohibit sexual orientation-based discrimination, 18 provide exemptions for religious objection.
Hawaii and Wisconsin are especially concerning since, while these states prohibit gender, marital status and sexual orientation-based discrimination, they have no provision for religious exemption from such laws.
"When considering same-sex marriage, both legislatures and the judiciary should recognize the competing religious liberty rights involved," suggests the Becket Fund. "If legislators or judges do recognize same-sex marriage, they should carve out robust religious exemptions for religious dissenters. Additionally, academic institutions and public interest groups should stimulate public discussion on these conflicts and ways to avoid them."
The study is available online here: