Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberties:

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In the United States, legalization of same-sex marriage has a long-standing history of opposition from religious circles. Some argue against the legalization of same-sex marriage based on their interpretation of the Bible’s stance against homosexuality (Dobson, O’Brien). Other opponents argue against the practice based on universal tenets of moral behavior, fundamental beliefs that are said to underpin our country’s existing laws and should not be eroded (George, Finnis, Friedman).

Increasingly, however, the arguments against same-sex marriage have turned to the legal realm, asserting that the practice threatens the right to religious freedom. Objectors use the U.S. Constitution and governing laws to craft legal arguments, rather than morality arguments, warning of a strong erosion of religious liberties should marriage laws be changed to accommodate same-sex unions (Berg, Schowengerdt).

Are same-sex marriages a threat to religious liberty in the United States? Exploring the ramifications, opinion leaders and religious scholars contend that this is the case. Their arguments include two dominant themes: 1) fear that legalization of same-sex marriages violates religious freedom by forcing organizations and individuals to sanction marriages, under penalty of law, that are contrary to their respective religious tenets; and 2) concerns about equal protection under the law versus religious freedom, which involves one Constitutional freedom impinging upon another. An explanation of these two themes follows.

Many organizations today are guided by a set of religious beliefs and values based on a Biblical definition of marriage, which is “the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife to serve the purpose of bearing and nurturi...

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