Is Same-Sex Marriage Violating The Civil Rights Of Conservative Christians?

A minority group of gay and lesbian citizens working to achieve civil rights parity with a majority group of Christian conservative citizens, does NOT result in a civil rights violation of said majority group. But don’t tell that to conservative Christians, who would have you believe they are the most persecuted group in America.

Are Gay-Rights Laws Trampling on Freedom of Religion? – Alex Roarty – The Atlantic — Take the case of Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, co-owners of a small Albuquerque, New Mexico, photography company. Last month, the New Mexico Supreme Court determined the couple had acted illegally in 2006 when they refused to take pictures of a commitment ceremony (held in lieu of a still-illegal marriage) between a gay couple. Noting that state law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, the state court decreed that accommodating different types of people was the “price of citizenship” in America.

It was yet another victory for gay-rights advocates, who have watched public opinion swell in their favor in recent years. But to the Hugeunins and those who have rallied to their cause, the case represents something else: a rare opportunity to shift public opinion in the other direction.

The Huguenins argue being forced to photograph the ceremony amounted to a persecution of their faith and an infringement on their First Amendment rights. “This idea that people in America can be compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives as the ‘price of citizenship’ is an unbelievable attack on freedom,” Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Huguenins, told National Journal. “Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin were simply trying to live their lives and operate their business in accordance with their faith.”

Rights are not absolute. When people think the First Amendment and freedom of speech, they tend to believe they are free to say anything they want, anytime they want, about anything they choose. But the price of participation in a civil society is that of give and take. We have laws against slander, and we have laws against discrimination, and these laws are enforceable even if you claim your freedom of speech is being abridged in the process. Such is the case when Christians claim their religious beliefs should be protected on the road to intolerance and bigotry.

When analyzing a potential clash of First Amendment rights, we should examine the negative impact of said rights on all parties. Because rights are not absolute, that means there is a point at which your freedom of speech arrests the freedom of speech of another. In the case of a married Christian couple who believe marriage is only between a man and a woman, and who believe they are within their rights to deny service to a same-sex couple, who is on the losing side of this clash of First Amendment rights?

On both sides we have beliefs and free speech rights being asserted, so which side wins out? Or, to put it another way, what is the best way to apply free speech rights in this case that results in the least amount of burden to all parties involved? Should the same-sex couple be denied service because they assert the same rights that the married couple already have? Or should the married couple be allowed to deny service based on their religious beliefs? Which scenario causes the least burden?

Party #1 has a belief system that results in discrimination and an abridgment of the civil rights of Party #2. — Party #2 is asserting they should have rights equal to Party #1, and this assertion does NOT directly impact the civil rights of Party #1, even if it does conflict with Party #1’s belief system. Which party is more gravely impacted?

The religious married couple may feel they are forced to do something that violates their belief system, but to what extend do we protect belief systems over civil rights? You are free to practice any religion you choose, but that should not give you license to discriminate with impunity. Because regardless of what you may think, religious beliefs and civil rights are not synonymous. I think in this case its pretty easy to figure out. The religious married couple has the right to marry. At the very least the same-sex couple should have that same right, and should not face discrimination, even in at a private business, for asserting that right.

So the summary goes like this — I believe religious beliefs are protected up to the point where they infringe upon someone else’s claim to the same rights the religious already enjoy.

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