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« Worse than we thought | Main | New York's human-rights exception, Con't »

June 25, 2011


Mike Kay

can you imagine how the poutragers would be screaming if obama had caved on this.

IOKIYNO: It's okay if your not obama.


PM, surely you must be aware that this issue is somewhat too complex to be resolved merely by saying what we have here is simply a refusal to "honor[] all humans' rights . . ."

What is at issue is the question of who gets to define what is a "right," and how much diversity should we tolerate with regard to those definitions, how much dissent, etc?

On several special cases--polygamy, peyote use, etc.--the state (as the organized, legal expression of the community) has said to certain religious organizations, "No, you don't have a right to those practices."

But as far as most other matters go, where clear cases of doctrine or tradition and behavior or practice interweave, the state has extended autonomy.

This is for the best. Do we really want to state arrogating to itself the power and authority to define, legislate and enforce contested metaphysical-ethical questions?

Well, on hard and exceptional questions, we do (no human sacrifice, eg). But hard cases make bad law. As a general thing we do not, and I hazard to presume that you and most people reading would hate to live in such a society.

But, the hypothetical aside, I'd say you are actually doing on this question what the hyper-progressives you so often rightly criticize do to Obama--ignore the realities of living in a pluralist society.

The fact is, without these exceptions, it wouldn't have happened. And if some hypothetical pro-gay-marriage group were to, say, succeed in pushing through some sort of no-religious-exceptions legislation, the backlash would be seismic.

But again, why would that be necessary or even desirable? Whether a church marries people of the same sex or not will become one of the distinctives by which they serve and attract members. The state should be no more concerned than it is whether an infant can get baptized at the Baptist church on the corner.

Ansel M.

Thanks for that very thoughtful comment, Charlieford!


Good comment, Charlieford. My church openly welcomes gay members and I have no doubt will hold gay wedding ceremonies in NY very soon. The Catholic church ( for example) has no more mandate to marry its gay members than it does a straight "heathen" like myself.

Church weddings are religious ceremonies first, and civil second. The state can't force a church to services for other religious denominations either, and they shouldn't.

Frankly I think that should be clear even without the bill's unfortunate and unnecessary religious exception.


p m, But there was an exception in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. regarding public accommodation. Since the public accommodation title was passed under the Commerce Clause regulating interstate commerce, small boarding houses were excepted because it was argued that these small establishment relied entirely on intrastate commerce unless it could be proven otherwise.

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