Becket Fund Study on Gay Marriage

December 5th, 2008 by

Dr. Brown wrote in his article Is There a “Civil Right” to Gay “Marriage”? that “A just-released study by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has also found that over 350 separate state anti-discrimination laws would likely be affected by the legal recognition of same-sex ‘marriage.’” Let’s take a look at the study in question.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a law firm based in Washington D.C. dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.  They describe themselves as “nonprofit, nonpartisan, and interfaith”, and they seek to operate in the court of law, public opinion, and academia. The study they released sought to assess how state anti-discrimination laws would affect conscientious objectors to same-sex marriage if gay marriages were legally recognized.  The study can be viewed as a pdf file here: [Link to Study]

The study analyzed state laws having to do with gender discrimination, marital status discrimination, and sexual orientation discrimination.  They found that “because gender discrimination laws are on the books in all 50 states, moral objections to same-sex marriage could be treated as a form of gender discrimination in every state.” For the 15 states that have marital status discrimination laws, but not sexual orientation discrimination laws, they would have a “sudden imposition of an entirely new category of anti-discrimination lawsuits if same-sex marriage were imposed.” After surveying over a thousand of these laws, they determined that “over 350 separate state anti-discrimination provisions would likely be triggered by recognition of same-sex marriage.”

Their conclusions are below (emphasis mine):

Based on this data, we conclude that if same-sex marriage is recognized by courts or legislatures, people and institutions who have conscientious objections to facilitating same-sex marriage will likely be sued under existing anti-discrimination laws—laws never intended for that purpose. 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.

From the words of a nonpartisan and interfaith public interest law firm, we see that the imposition of same sex marriage will likely result in a muzzling of our ability to live consistently with our loving and non-violent faith in Jesus.  As Rob Dreher, editorial columnist for the Dallas Morning News, stated concerning the conclusion of the study: “It is not a scare tactic, or a made-up charge: there really will be a substantial effect on traditional churches, synagogues, mosques and religious institutions if gay marriage is constitutionalized.”

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