Religious Liberty and Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies: Historic Precedents, Future Possibilities
July 15, 2015 12:00 ET

The legalization of same-sex marriage and the amending of state public accommodation laws to include sexual orientation have resulted in cases that force or may force some citizens to choose between their livelihoods and their religious convictions.  Gay rights activists often argue that protecting such individuals would undermine state civil rights laws.  Such objections ignore the fact that American civic leaders and jurists, at both the national and state levels, have long created significant protections for Americans who object to neutral, generally applicable laws for religious reasons.  Consideration of a wide a range of cases reveals a consensus that governments should not force individuals to violate their sincerely held religious convictions unless they have compelling reasons for doing so.  Moreover, in spite of numerous exemptions for religious actors, the nation and states have still been able to achieve important policy objectives.  Carefully written statutes protecting citizens who have religious objections to participating in same sex-wedding ceremonies would fit this pattern perfectly.  Join FRC and Dr. Mark Hall as he examines historical precendents that speak to the future of religious liberty in America.

Mark David Hall has been at George Fox since 2001. He received a BA in political science from Wheaton College and a PhD in political science from the University of Virginia. Mark's primary research and writing interests are American political theory and the relationship between religion and politics. He has written or co-edited The Political and Legal Philosophy of James Wilson, 1742-1798 (1997); The Founders on God and Government (2004); Collected Works of James Wilson 2 vol. (2007); The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life (2009); The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding (2009); America's Forgotten Founders(2011), and Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2013). He has also written more than fifty journal articles, book chapters, reviews, and sundry pieces.  Most recently Dr. Hall has edited Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2015) and is co-authoring a book tentatively titled America's "Godless" Constitution, Deist Founders, and other Myths About Religion and the American Founding. Mark also serves as a Senior Fellow at Baylor University's Institute for the Studies of Religion.

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