Religious Groups and Gays and Lesbians

Ed Brayton stcynic at
Tue Mar 21 11:37:25 PST 2006

Marty Lederman wrote:

> This doesn't mean that gay- and lesbian-rights groups, and the DEA, 
> and . . . . everyone else, shouldn't be more sensitive to claims for 
> religious exemptions, or that they should treat religious objections 
> as morally equivalent to, say, outright bigotry.  I'm a strong 
> proponent of RLUIPA, after all.  But it would be odd, and contrary to 
> their constituencies' interests, wouldn't it, if such groups 
> actually /supported/ granting certain employers/landlords/schools the 
> right to exclude them from some of the benefits of civil society based 
> solely on their sexual orientation?

I don't think it would be odd at all. Indeed, I would argue that it's 
quite consistent. I am a staunch supporter of gay rights, but I also 
strongly support the right of religious groups to discriminate within 
their organizations. I would not support any bill that required a church 
or religious organization, for example, to hire a gay minister or even a 
gay janitor. Even less so would I support any law that would require any 
church or religious organization to stop speaking out in opposition to 
homosexuality, even if they do so in terms that I find quite offensive. 
I think this is entirely consistent with my support for gay rights 
because both are based upon the same basic premise - that the 
individual, acting alone or in private associations as they choose, has 
self-ownership and self-determination unless their actions deprive 
another person or private association of their equal right to 
self-determination or harm them against their will. Gays have the right 
to live their lives without interference from government, no matter how 
large a majority might wish to put them in jail for their behavior, 
until they step over the line drawn above; churches and religious groups 
and private associations have that same right. And frankly, I'm not sure 
it's true that most gay activists would disagree with me on this. I know 
lots and lots of staunch supporters of gay rights who agree with me and 
who understand that if they don't protect even their opponents' right to 
free speech and free association, they put their own at risk.

Ed Brayton
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