May. 8th, 2009

catecumen: Ellen custom made by dhampir (cauc back in asian)
This past week, numerous major newspapers have picked up an article originally run in the L.A. Times by Robin Wilson, professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law. In the article Professor Wilson argues that the "conscientious religious objector" provisions of same-sex marriage legislation should go farther than exempting clergy and religious organizations from solemnizing or otherwise celebrating same-sex marriages. Professor Wilson claims that religious liberty should also protect the caterer, the florist, the photographer and any other wedding-related service provider from being asked to participate or contribute in any way to a same-sex wedding.

Would we say the same if someone had a "religious" objection to an interracial marriage and refused to provide any services to such a couple? Should Catholic hospitals and universities, for example, be permitted to discriminate as a matter of policy between legally married same-sex couples and legally married opposite-sex couples? I don't think so.

On the other hand, will same-sex couples be more likely to patronize the services of gay-friendly florists, caterers, photographers, etc.? Probably. That, in and of itself, is a free-market activity. In all but the smallest of communities, there will probably be plenty of private service providers who will seek out a paying market, and same-sex marriages can be expected to be a booming market for awhile for all of the associated service providers in each state in which they are approved. However, if (for example) a couple is choosing to get married in the really small town where one's ailing great-grandparent lives, it's one thing to say "we'll have to be married by the town judge, because none of the five clergy in town will perform the marriage in a church" - unpleasant, and not something I'm endorsing as morally correct, but within the scope of an appropriate religious liberty exemption. It's quite another thing for every florist, caterer, photographer etc. in that small town to be permitted to refuse service to the couple.

I completely agree that a clergyperson should not be required to perform a marriage which is not approved within his/her faith, and that a religious organization should not be required to make their house of worship available for such a ceremony if it is contrary to their beliefs, but I do think that the religious liberty argument should stop there.

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