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Topics: Cultural Engagement, Current Events, Marriage

The Leading Edge: The New Social War: 7 Issues to Watch

September 12, 2013

Leading Edge

The Story: “Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights: 7 Issues to Watch” by Sara Pulliam Bailey writing for, September 6, 2013.

The Lead:  “Many of the legal skirmishes are not directly tied to federal recognition of gay marriages after the Supreme Court’s decision striking down most of the Defense of Marriage Act. Instead, the fights largely revolve around state and local anti-discrimination ordinances that include protections for gays and lesbians.

“Upcoming battles include whether religious opposition to same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender and/or marital status; and what happens when a discrimination claim bumps up against an individual’s or institution’s religious freedom.”

Why it Matters: What Justice Kennedy and 4 others touched off this summer in the now infamous Proposition 8 ruling is simply the beginning.  Those past debates over feminism and reproductive choice and egalitarianism?  Those debates will not hold a candle to what is coming down the pike.

For the foreseeable future, the gender wars in this country have shifted from actual gender and to gender as expressed by sexual orientation.  That shift places the debate square at the doorstep of the church that defines both gender and sexuality in terms of morality.  Both hold to their positions with religious zeal, though only one side willingly takes the title of “religion.”  The debate, then, is whether sexual expression is of more fundamental importance or whether religious belief will be.

Of course, it did not start with Justice Kennedy.  In fact, one might argue that the words of the district judge, Judge Vaughn Walker, touched off this debate years prior to Justice Kennedy ever wetting his quill: “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or interior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.”

Oh, and take note.  How many of the 7 “issues” affect your personal, professional, or religious life?

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