Religion, Liberty

How Coercion Discredits Religious Liberty

I’ve posted several defenses of religious exemptions on BHL, particularly those requested by objectors to the HHS contraception mandate and forcing people to serve gay couples against their conscience. I have been dismayed at the hostility I’ve encountered from some of you, from fellow academics and, in particular, other professional philosophers.

There are many reasons for this hostility, among them the lack of respect for religious belief increasingly popular among progressives and American intellectual elites. But I think there’s a reason for hostility that is worth examining in some detail. This hostility is based on the sense that those insisting on their religious liberty, and those defending such individuals, are hypocrites. Here’s the progressive and secular libertarian thought:

Those insisting on religious exemptions are largely religious conservatives who support using coercion to ban gay marriage, and so when they complain about religious liberty, they’re demanding special treatment. They support religious liberty for me and not for thee.

Such was the reaction to my sharing an article of Ross Douthat’s on Facebook. Douthat claims that conservatives aren’t being allowed to negotiate the “terms of our surrender” on the gay marriage issue. The left, says Douthat, will show religious conservatives no mercy. Instead of being content with relegating defenders of traditional marriage to cultural minority status, the left insists on branding everyone who holds to traditional marriage a bigot or anti-gay. Where gays were once stigmatized (and still are), they now will be liberated and the stigma shifted to religious conservatives.

One of my co-bloggers, secular but ordinarily highly respectful of religious believers, pointed out that he was unsympathetic to religious conservatives complaining about religious liberty, even if he was sympathetic to allowing religious exemptions. The thought, again, was that religious conservatives are demanding special treatment.

And there’s something to this worry. Conservatives who think it is the business of the state to enforce the True Moral View don’t have much ground to complain when they’re on the losing end of moralistic state coercion.*

This is how coercion discredits liberty. If conservatives had not insisted on legislating their definition of marriage, there would be less hostility to their requests for religious liberty.

We can draw a more general lesson: the cause of liberty is set back when people insist on liberty for themselves and not for those they despise, dislike or disagree with. If Douthat had not supported legislating traditional marriage in the past, people might take his concerns more seriously.

Now, I agree with Douthat’s general concern. I don’t want my fellow Christians treated like bigots for trying to follow Jesus as honestly and consistently as they know how. Regardless of my own views on marriage (traditional libertarian), I love my brothers and sisters in Jesus and want to protect them from scorn.

More important, however, is treating gay and lesbian Christians much better, giving them the love and community they need. Far too many believers forget this, in part because the gays and lesbians in the church still feel too afraid to speak out and share their experiences and struggles. We have a duty to remove this atmosphere of fear and shame, whatever our moral views of about homosexual sex acts.

In sum, everyone deserves liberty, and those prepared to coercively impose their views on others set back that cause by demanding special treatment.

Update: Sarah has already opined on this, very nicely.

*Notice how few conservatives actually argue that they have cause to complain because they merit religious liberty in virtue of holding the True Moral View, whereas gays and lesbians merit less liberty in virtue of living out the False Moral View. A more consistent conservative perfectionism would make this claim, but even conservatives, I think, want to resist perfectionist reasoning in some cases.

  • Sarah Skwire

    Kevin, yep. “The opponents of same sex marriage spend a lot of time arguing that marriage is a religious institution, and that the state should not define it. But they seem cheerfully willing to wield the force of the state to enshrine a definition of marriage that comports with their own religious traditions, no matter how severely it violates the religious traditions of other, equally faithful, groups. Our traditions may not be your traditions, but they are no less the cornerstones of our houses of faith. And they deserve no lesser protection from the intrusions of the state.”

    http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2013/07/6231/

    • Thomasy

      There is nowhere in this nation that it is agains the law for a religious group to celebrate the marriage of two individuals of the same sex. The state does not intrude on that celebrate anywhere in the US.

      • Farstrider

        True. This dispute is only about whether state has or should have the power to exclude gay unions from the state-awarded benefits of marriage. Everything else is purely a distraction.

    • Kevin Vallier

      Good call. I’ll link it in the piece.

    • TracyW

      So you’re in favour of legally recognising polygamy? (Genuine question, I’m not going to mock you or despise you if you say yes).

  • Thomasy

    Marriage laws are about state subsidies, not about bans or restrictions on liberty. (And, no, subsidies aren’t about coercion, unless all spending on non-public goods is about coercion, in which case you’re a real libertarian, and everyone is equally aggrieved by traditional marriage laws, not just nonparticipants.)

    • TracyW

      Actually a lot of marriage laws are about what to do with the property when a marriage ends, be that by death or divorce.

      • Dp_Thinker

        Sure but the state doesnt need to be involved in any of that.

        • TracyW

          The state doesn’t need to be involved in adjudicating who owns land? So, for example, if someone dies, and their parents declare that their dead child’s house is there’s, and locks the person’s partner out, the state has no involvement?

          Personally I thought adjudicating such disputes, and enforcing any resulting decisions, is part of the definition of a what a state actually is.

          • Dp_Thinker

            No, a state is coercion, theft and violence. What do you think happened in situations like these 100 years ago when marriage licenses didnt exist? How did western frontiersmen deal with property rights? Its called a contract.

            Assuming the solution you see today (the state) is the only solution is a false premise. People can declare whatever they want, just as if you declared my house was your property. But the minute you walk in and do so you will be met with defensive force.

            Property means one has complete control over something. If there is an entity that can tell you what to do with your property, you really dont have ownership.

            Of course the main thing is, in order for something to be called property, it already has an owner. Otherwise it isnt property. Contracts are the solution to property, and if that fails, force is necessary. And that is no different than how a state operates. If one doesnt obey a contract the state will come with guns blazing.. So in essence you must believe the state should be priveleged in this regard, as they must have rights I do not, if you think I should be unable to protect my property. And I wont respond to dumb lifeboat arguments either..

          • TracyW

            What do you think happened in situations like these 100 years ago when marriage licenses didnt exist?

            Years and years of litigation with the entire value of the estate going in legal fees?

            How did western frontiersmen deal with property rights? Its called a contract.

            Yep, and a marriage is a particular form of contract (amongst other things).

            . People can declare whatever they want, just as if you declared my house was your property. But the minute you walk in and do so you will be met with defensive force.

            Well that’s fine if you never leave your property. But, say, you duck out to the shops to get some food to feed your kids, and come back to discover that in your absence your late spouse’s parents broke in and are in occupation. Oh, and they brought along their ex-army mates.
            Or, say, your late spouse had some money in deposit at the bank, and the bank wants to know who has legal rights to it. Do you plan to launch an armed raid on the bank?

            If one doesnt obey a contract the state will come with guns blazing.

            Generally there’s an intermediate stage where you have to convince the state that someone has broken a contract in the first place. I mean, let’s say I lie and claim that I lent you a million dollars and you are refusing to repay me. If the state just comes in with guns blazing on my say-so, you can see the obvious incentive for me to lie my head off.

          • Dp_Thinker

            Nice conclusions but they are false if you actually knew what hapoened historically. And as I said I dont respond to lifeboat situations. However, you again believe the state is the only response to these “problems”. How about instead of taxes going to inefficient organizations you make payments to a private security company? Unless you believe the govt is the best solution to problems..

          • TracyW

            So, please enlighten me, what happened historically amongst western frontiermen when someone died and people disagreed on who should inherit the relevant property? How did they handle the risks of a widow being deprived of her own home merely because someone was more physically powerful?

            As for payments to a private security company, surely the private security company still has the problem of deciding who owns the property in dispute? I mean, let’s say my brother dies and I claim I’m his legal heir, would a private company be willing to go in guns blazing just on my say-so?

          • Dp_Thinker

            Let me be very clear on something… Security is your responsibility, not someone elses and certainly not by coercing others to subsidize your security via taxes.. I suggest you read “The not so wild, wild west” by Andersen and Hill..

            And I assume you agree then that the functions of a state dont need to be performed by the state. In fact it would be very simple. When you buy a piece of property you register the ownership documents with a local security database that all of the security firms have access to and can clearly see you are the owner. All of the “hows” to a nonstate society would work can be hypothesized, but since we are talking about coercion in this article I wanted to bring up the moral aspects of it. The state is the biggest aggressor in “society”.

          • TracyW

            You seem to be ignoring my arguments in favour of responding to some imaginary person in your head. What did happen historically amongst western frontiersmen when someone died and people disagreed on who should inherit the relevant property?

            And how would registering the ownership documents with a local security database help in the case of deciding who rightfully owns a property once the previous owner is dead? Does the local security database just turn over the ownership documents to the first one showing up claiming them?

            You also haven’t addressed what would happen if I lie to my security company and falsely claim you owe me one million dollars.

            There’s questions other than coercion here, there’s questions around the determination of property rights when things change, and the establishment of what is a contract and what isn’t. These questions don’t go away by waving your hands and saying “wild wild west/the state is the biggest aggressor”.

          • Damien S.

            How about instead of taxes going to inefficient militaries you make payments to mercenaries for defense? US military vs. the mercenaries of your choice, place your bets.

  • Hi Kevin,

    I agree with the general thrust of your argument. The Douthat op-ed was, in my mind, amazingly willfully blind to recent history. How many state bans on gay marriage have there been, along with many attempts at banning civil unions? As soon as homosexuality became a non-taboo subject in the US, there was a rush to use the state to deny basic dignity to homosexuals. In literally every state, there are protections against discriminating on the basis of religion, and that is not the case for gender identification or sexual preference. (There is also the case of some fringe elements of US political evangelical movements promoting anti-gay laws in places like Uganda that were toned down from carrying death penalties and instead only require decades of imprisonment.)

    One might think about it like this. Douthat’s piece, and some other more defenses of the rights of religious people, have the appearance not of people looking for basic equal treatment, but people who have grown accustomed to extraordinary privilege getting upset because they have to start treating others equally. It’s not unlike the normal story of someone who steals everyone’s property, then says “from now on, I really feel like property rights are the most important thing. We must all respect them as they are.” Seeing traditionally marginalized groups begin to achieve equality in rights and recognition is (by some) being interpreted as somehow punishing or persecuting Christians.

    The second element of this is that it’s hard to tell from the outside who is just a bigot and who is a deeply religious person who interprets their religious responsibility as prohibiting them from anything that might be interpreted as promoting something against their religious text. In fact, “I’m a Christian” looks like an awesome excuse for someone who wants to be a bigot. It looks like a great get out of jail free card for public discourse. I think this is why you see very little resistance on the part of liberals for carving out exemptions for churches, since we’re pretty sure what the true motivation is, but it looks different for individuals or business owners – they might just be jerks looking for a convenient public excuse to justify their discriminatory actions.

    The basic underlying dynamic with any of this is just that traditionally-marginalized groups don’t have much power or access to the rights that the rest of us enjoy. So there’s going to be the appearance of a loss on the part of traditionally more powerful groups, even though it’s just losing the stuff they had no justifiable right to in the first place. While these groups certainly have religious liberties, protecting those is tricky in light of the fact that we need to be sensitive to how precarious the recognition of rights toward marginalized groups continues to be, and that there are people who would like to use convenient justifications for their attempts to continue to deny marginalized groups their rights.

    • TracyW

      I think that people should have the right to be jerks or bigots in their private lives. Regardless of whether they’re powerful or powerless. (Obviously government officials need to be neutral).

      After all, 100, or even 50 years ago, the vast majority of people regarded homosexuality as being as despicable as we regard anti-gay bigotry today.

      • One person being a jerk in their private life isn’t that big of a deal. We can assume it all washes out in all the diversity of ways people can be a jerk. But if there is systematic bigotry targeted at certain classes of people, the ‘private life’ excuse doesn’t make a lot of sense. It means that we agree that we don’t have to grant others basic recognition and dignity. That’s not taking them seriously as moral agents with their own ends. Coercion and oppression don’t just come from the state. Informal sanctions can be just as bad as formal ones. (This is especially important if people advocate for a more minimal state – the scope of neutrality would be tiny! It would allow for massive and rampant bigotry.) I’m not sure if I get the point of your historical reference – I agree, we’re overall a more just society than we were before. But it doesn’t mean that we are fully just, or even as just as we could expect ourselves to be given our current set of institutions.

        • TracyW

          What I mean is that 100 years ago most people thought they were fully justified in persecuting gays and lesbians. As you say, they weren’t taking gays and lesbians seriously as moral agents in their own ends.
          There’s always reasons particular to any case to not tolerate things this time. As others have said, it’s depressing to see equality before the law and expansive private liberty being regarded as bitter-end, fall-back positions so often. Like Protestants being persecuted by the law, and then turning around and passing the same laws back again once they had the power.

    • Theresa Klein

      Even if that is the case, does that suddenly make it just to force Christians to act against their religious beliefs, in supplying contraceptives to employees? Well Christians did bad things SO THERE ! We get to force you to do what we want now! Nyah! Nyah!
      Nevermind that this whole way of getting contraceptives to people is a fairly awkwards and round-about way of doing it. People should be buying their own insurance policies in the ifrst place.

      • I don’t quite understand your argument. I didn’t make any reference to contraceptives. But let’s say that I did. I think this issue boils down to a fairly simple difference in intuition: I tend to think of providing insurance benefits as pretty much like paying someone’s salary. (I’d rather that we have a system in which insurance was fully separate from employment, but we don’t live in that world. In our world, benefits are part of a compensation package.) Others tend to think of insurance as something other than salary. I think pretty much everyone would agree that your employer can’t control what you spend your money on, even if they paid you that money. If they know you’re going to buy birth control, they can’t dock your pay X amount to try and prevent that. It would obviously be wrong. Now, we have standardized minimal standards for what should go in an insurance plan, which is part of benefits. To me, for the same reasons that your employer can’t tell you how to spend your money, they can’t tell you what medical services of the politically agreed-upon minimal set of things covered that you’re allowed to access. The cost argument is nonsense, because plans that include birth control are cheaper than ones that don’t include it (as it turns out, pregnancy is kind of expensive). So there isn’t even a matter of people having to spend extra money on something they don’t endorse. This signals to me that this is employers trying to coerce their employees, using their position of economic power to materially alter someone’s private choice. It’s good to be worried about state coercion, but other parties can coerce as well.

        The other intuition here is that money = endorsement, and so anything that a person or an institution spends money on really means that they approve. And so spending money on something that includes contraceptives is tantamount to endorsing contraceptives. I think that this is a very difficult view to maintain, in part because people would be fairly constantly sullied in their economic transactions. I certainly don’t endorse everything that my taxes pay for, and no doubt lots of companies I give money to do objectionable things with that money. You’re asking for a level of purity that is impossible to get in a pluralistic, integrated world.

        • I should note that it’s not a matter of “Christians were mean so there” and that means we can take advantage of them or discriminate against them. My point is that we shouldn’t discriminate against anyone. It is just that the loss of special privilege in the path toward equality may feel like it’s discrimination. I’m not denying that it is a real loss. But I am saying that if we want to aim for political equality, that’s an acceptable loss, because that special privilege was coming at the cost of someone else’s ability to fully participate in society. I of course would not endorse the idea that the formerly weak now get to dominate to equal things out. I do endorse the claim that we all get to be equal participants in civil society. That goal has not yet been achieved, and so we still have some adjusting to do.

        • Theresa Klein

          I tend to think of providing insurance benefits as pretty much like paying someone’s salary. … I think pretty much everyone would agree that your employer can’t control what you spend your money on, even if they paid you that money.

          Except you can’t “spend” your health insurance on something other than health care. You can’t sell it to someone else, you can’t let someone else use it for a fee.

          So the very fact that the law requires you to get paid in health insurance itself restricts your liberty. You are compelled to spend your salary on healthcare.

          Furthermore, the law imposes all sorts of mandates on what that health insurance must cover. You MUST spend your compensation on maternity coverage, even if you are a man or a post-menopausal woman.

          Why is it that not covering contraception is supposed to be a great imposition on an employee’s liberty, but mandatory spending on maternity coverage isn’t?

          • I’ve already agreed with you that it would be better for us to have a system that decouples employment from health insurance. Blame companies that didn’t want to pay more in salary and thought benefits would be a smarter way of retaining employees. But since we don’t live in that world, and we do live in a world in which employment-based insurance is how most people get their health insurance, we have to work out how the rules should work. Insurance, by its nature, is going to be ‘spent’ insuring you against tons of stuff that probably won’t happen. Some things might be impossible, like me getting pregnant. There’s a host of genetic diseases I’m pretty much certainly not going to get, either. But if the insurance pool was only those people that were likely to get those genetic diseases, no one would be able to be in that insurance pool. A big insurance pool makes those things affordable. I’m happy to trade a minor incursion on my property rights for a huge gain in quality of life to others. I also don’t mind my taxes going to helping people in floods and hurricanes or other natural disasters. We’re rich enough that we can protect people a bit from bad luck in the natural lottery.

          • Farstrider

            Well said. Many opponents of the ACA seem to have never encountered the notion of insurance before.

          • Sean II

            “Blame companies that didn’t want to pay more in salary and thought benefits would be a smarter way of retaining employees.”

            Ryan…don’t you know why those companies did that?

            Because if you don’t know the history of employer-based health insurance in this country, if you think “companies” just decided it was a “smarter way” to compensate their employees, you’re talking straight out of your hat.

            Let me help you with some search terms. Try “employer based health insurance” + “wage and price controls”, or + “unions”, or + “tax status”.

            And this isn’t just some persnickety historical quibble. If you’re really interested in decoupling, you should know what combination of policies shotgunned that couple together in the first place, and what incentives keep them so unhappily married today.

          • Farstrider

            See? You CAN add value to a conversation! Well done.

          • Theresa Klein

            But since we don’t live in that world, and we do live in a world in which employment-based insurance is how most people get their health insurance, we have to work out how the rules should work.
            You should start by working towards getting rid of the employment based system. Not turning it into a means to coerce emploers into violating their conscience.

        • Damien S.

          “In our world, benefits are part of a compensation package.”

          Our *country*, rather.

          As for endorsement, it’s hard to claim one is being forced to endorse something when one is forced to pay for it. Endorsement is choice, the anathema of force.

          The argument seems more about being forced to be “complicit” in something one disapproves of. But hello, taxes going to wars and the death penalty and such. I can sympathize with the complaint, but too bad, we’re all complicit, nothing special about birth control.

  • jtlevy

    Agreed, of course. I’d add in consideration of sodomy laws which, to the best of my recollection, were vocally opposed by *no* prominent social-religious conservatives other than Ramesh Ponnuru; the bans on gays and lesbians in the military; and the Kansas proposal that was in the news a week or two before the Arizona bill. While there’s a case to be made for the Arizona proposal in libertarian terms, anyone who supported the Kansas proposal pretty much forfeits the right to make that case in those terms. They’re revealed as anti-gay bigots for whom “equality before the law and expansive private liberty” are only bitter-end fallback positions.

    The intensification of anti-gay bigotry as a an animating and motivating cause on the right over the 1990s and 2000s, the sheer punitive viciousness of the refusal to entertain civil unions, of DOMA and super-DOMAs and DADT prosecutions, pretty much leaves me rolling my eyes at anyone but Kevin and Ponnuru who now appeals to classical liberal principle in support of Arizona-like super-RFRAs.

    • TracyW

      You do realise that those laws were supported by majorities? And that the DOMA was signed by Bill Clinton?

      I’m in favour of gay marriage, and I have been since I was a teenager. But the process of the 1990s and 2000s has been of a diminishing of anti-gay bigotry. The anti-same-sex marriage was utterly mainstream in the mid 1990s, supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the USA.

      It’s depressing how those who won the cultural battle are now resorting to cheap insults now they’ve got the powerful hand. It’s a depressing example of the continual cycle of hatred in human affairs.

      • jtlevy

        I do realize all of those things, and will never forgive Clinton for DOMA… but of course he’s a southern Protestant. The fact that he was a Democrat doesn’t change the basic milieu out of which the animus was spreading.

        Yes, the cultural battle has been won, and astonishingly quickly. But that was accompanied by things getting much worse in politics for a long time, not better, as the Christian right eagerly exploited a new issue, as super-DOMAs took away even existing contract rights, as they piled constitutional amendments on top of legislation just to keep the issue alive for an extra election cycle… Reagan made an occasional anti-gay crack, and GHWB let Pat Buchanan talk about culture war at the convention, but it was only later in the 90s that gay-baiting became such a prominent part of Republican electoral strategy, climaxing in 2004.

        • TracyW

          Um, as far as I can tell, the basic animus was very nearly universal. When reading older books I’ve come across the odd, very jarring, case where the author clearly confidently assumes that their readers will regard homosexuality as a bad thing. As Eugene Volokh notes, it wasn’t long ago that people advocating anti-discrimination laws poo-poohed the idea that it could possibly lead to legalising same-sex marriage.
          Gay marriage only became a live issue once it had the possibility of being approved by a court.

          • Damien S.

            Universal yet recent. The UK criminalized homosexual acts in 1885, something they then inflicted on places like India. High levels of anti-homosexual animus aren’t the European historical norm.

            As for courts and gay marriage — well, that’s how it sparked in the US, with Hawaii’s 1993 court decision. The first modern gay marriage was 2001 via Dutch law. Vermont had a civil union law just before that; Denmark had a civil union law before that in 1989. California created domestic partnerships in 1999 without judicial impetus.

          • TracyW

            Hmm, I recall a different picture from reading Fanny Hill, which was written in the 18th century if I recall corrctly. The heroine, despite her occupation, was horrified by a particular scene she viewed (of course this didn’t stop her describing it in detail), and called the innkeeper to address this “immorality”.

          • Damien S.

            Maybe, I was just going off a timeline I’d found. WP says “In England, Henry VIII introduced the first legislation under English criminal law against sodomy with the Buggery Act of 1533, making buggery punishable by hanging, a penalty not lifted until 1861.”

            Also “In 1786 Pietro Leopoldo of Tuscany, abolishing death penalty for all crimes, became not only the first Western ruler to do so, but also the first ruler to abolish death penalty for sodomy (which was replaced by prison and hard labour).
            In France, it was the French Revolutionary penal code (issued in 1791) which for the first time struck down “sodomy” as a crime, decriminalizing it together with all “victimless-crimes” (sodomy, heresy, witchcraft, blasphemy)”

            So yeah, laws were not an invention of the 19th century, but also not timeless. Elsewhere I’ve read that medieval Europe was more casual or accepting than later.

          • TracyW

            It’s quite possible that overall medieval Europe was more casual and accepting than later. That term “medieval Europe” covers a lot of history and a lot of countries.

    • TracyW

      Actually, I think for most of humanity, equality before the law and expansive private liberty are bitter-end fall-back positions.
      Think of the struggles in Europe of people imposing their religions on each other, which only eventually gave way grudgingly to religious tolerance as the body count piled up. And the bitter arguments before tolerance was extended in the 19th century to Jews.
      Or how the Magna Carta argued liberties for the Barons, but not for the common people.
      Or the modern popularity of farm subsidies amongst farmers in Europe and the USA.
      For most people, equality before the law and expansive private liberty are things they go for only when they can’t build, or maintain, a coalition granting them special rights.

      • Theresa Klein

        I couldn’t agree more.
        Why must the public sphere be a perpetual battle of different groups forcibly opposing their moral views upon others?
        Freedom of conscience was a political principle that our society reached after centuries of bloodshed. You don’t toss it in the trash because you dislike religious conservatives and want to hand out free birth control.

        • TracyW

          Well, it was hardly ever well reached as a societal principle in the first place. It’s not that long ago that homosexuality, at least the male sort, was criminal.

        • Farstrider

          Why? Because that’s how the marketplace of ideas works. And should work. Debate is a feature not a bug. Homogenity would be far worse.

          And let’s be clear, no one is regulating what people believe. Only whom they can discriminate against.

          • Theresa Klein

            No, you are regulating how they must act. You are compelling them to perform actions that violate their beliefs, as a condition of engaging in commerce of any kind.

          • Farstrider

            Yes. But not regulating what they believe, as I said.

          • Theresa Klein

            Well do we want a society where people are forbidden from opening a business unless they do things that are against their religion?

          • Farstrider

            Yes, especially where the only thing the law requires is that they not impose their religious beliefs on others. Tolerating perceived evil (that is not really evil in any objective sense) is the price of a free society.

          • Theresa Klein

            The thing the laws requires is for them to actively participate in something their religion forbids.

            And it’s not your place to judge how their religious beliefs should be interpreted.

          • Farstrider

            Not really. As Kevin explained above, all they have to do is sign a form allowing someone else to pay. Form signing is not against their religion.

          • Farstrider

            Neither active participation nor judging of religious beliefs is required under my scenario. I don’t care why you think contraception or gay marriage is evil, you don’t get to impose those beliefs on others.
            You, on the other hand, want to allow the sincerely religious to opt out of laws of general applicability. Seems that you are the one who must judge religious beliefs, not me.

    • Sean II

      “The intensification of anti-gay bigotry as a an animating and motivating cause on the right over the 1990s and 2000s…”

      That’s not really a correct way to describe what happened. Anti-gay bigotry was way more intense before the 1990s, and was by no means limited to the right wing.

      To describe the right’s pathetic, and now quite obviously doomed, rear-guard action against gay rights as an “intensification” is more than a bit strange.

      What really happened is that, while the rest of America moved away from the old attitudes, being anti-gay became one of the handier ways to signal one’s status as a religious conservative. Anti-gayness is, if you like, the “Impeach Earl Warren” bumper sticker of our time.

      Exception Noted: There is one place where anti-gay attitudes live on without something very like the old-time intensity, and that is the black community. About as far from the right as one can get…

      • DavidRHenderson

        Good points, Sean II.

      • j r

        There is one place where anti-gay attitudes live on without something very like the old-time intensity, and that is the black community.

        Putting aside the spurious notion that there is such a thing as “the black community,” this claim is empirically false.

        Note this 2013 Pew study: http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-detailed_tables/Gay%20marriage%20detailed%20tables.pdf

        Opposition to gay marriage is only 5 percentage points higher among blacks than among whites and the sample as a whole. And this data squares with the exit polls done after marriage equality ballot measures in several states. In general. things like age, income and religiosity matter a lot more to whether someone is anti-gay than does race.

        • Sean II

          What makes people say absurd things like “there is no such thing as the black community”? The phrase is a common one with very obvious referents. Indeed, those words (together with the synonym “African-American community”) yield around 3 million Google hits. What, is everyone just out of their mind?

          I’ve seen you around, JR, but I’ve never noticed you to object “there is no such thing as Iceland”, nor have I heard you ask Kevin “What do you even mean by the term Chrtistians?” I notice you’re not complaining about the PEW pollsters, wondering why THEY assume the black community exists enough to be regarded as a statistical category.

          So why now, J? Why is it suddenly necessary to remind everyone that “community” doesn’t mean “monolithic hive mind”.

          Because if I’d meant to say “monolithic hive mind”, I would have said that. But I didn’t…so please don’t respond by grandstanding as if I had.

          And by the way: wikipedia has black support for gay marriage at 39%, badly trailing white support at 60%.

          In case you don’t recall, 39% isn’t enough (within a given “community”) to win elections. 60% is.

          Thus the statement “black community still opposes gay marriage” is not merely defensible, but quite obviously true.

          • j r

            Grandstanding? My comment had one phrase, half a sentence about the use of the term black community, but was mostly addressing the empirical claim. Me thinks you do protest too much.

            And the point of mentioning the term black community is that you are attributing opinions to it that are really more about other factors, like religiosity, age, and income. In other words, your whole view on this is largely a factor of spurious and confounding factors.

            As for the empirics, I give you Pew and you reply with Wikipedia. Odd, but not outright wrong. You did not, however, bother to look at where the Wikipedia reference comes from. If you had, you would have found this: http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/2014.LGBT_REPORT.pdf

            That report gives a number of 39% support among blacks (as opposed to 55, not 60, among whites). The odd thing about the report is that it lists black Protestant support at 35% (above white Evangelical support at 27). Is it likely that support for gay marriage among all blacks is only 4 percentage points higher than above religious blacks? Probably not, but maybe.

            Where do those numbers come from anyway? The report actually doesn’t list precise sources. It mentions a couple of sources, Pew being one of them. And if that’s the case probably better to go directly to Pew, which is what I did in the first place.

            So, no, none of this is “quite obviously true.” The truth is that anti-gay feelings are probably a bit higher among blacks than among whites, but that most of that can be better modeled through age, income and religiosity.

          • Sean II

            “Me thinks you do protest too much.”

            Such a tired old line. These days, it’s almost always (mis)used with unintentionally funny results.

            This is such a case. Here you are the one promising too much, in the sense that for a moment you tried to pretend it’s possible to go through life without using terms of convenience like “the black community”.

            You know what that makes you? One white guy trying to use the old “what do you mean, you people?” trump on another white guy…which is never not funny.

            I explained why you could never be consistent in that position, since it would end with you forsaking all group labels – including the groups you now want to blame for anti-gayness, like the old, the poor, and the religious, etc.

            Now, the incorrect but common reading of Gertrude’s line has it meaning something like “I think this guy is trying too hard”…to be something or other.

            One of us may qualify for that, but it’s not me.

          • j r

            For a second, I thought that you might focus on the empirical claim. I was wrong.

            ps – I used the protest line exactly as I meant to use it. I’m trying to address the incorrect empirical claim that you made, because I believe that you are more interested in upholding a stereotype than you are in the actual factual truth of the claim. I was right.

          • Sean II

            Well, in this case the side pot was far richer than the main.

            I’m only slightly interested in attitudes toward gay marriage. but I am fascinated by cultural factors like the one that made you think it would sound cool to say something like “leaving aside the fact that there is no such thing as the ‘black community’…”

            What did you hope to accomplish? What image were you hoping to project? If you really wanted to just focus on the empirical decimal points, why couldn’t resist throwing that comment in? Why didn’t the obvious counter-arguments occur to you? Why is race talk such a potent antidote to reason?

            These things interest me in a way that gay marriage does not.

          • Sergio Méndez

            “What makes people say absurd things like “there is no such thing as the
            black community”? The phrase is a common one with very obvious
            referents. Indeed, those words (together with the synonym
            “African-American community”) yield around 3 million Google hits. What,
            is everyone just out of their mind?”

            Wait a second…now social reality is defined by the number of google hits a tem has??? WTF?

          • Sean II

            You’re such a lightweight. What’s your average time spent composing a comment? 30 seconds?

            Of course “social reality” is measurable (among other ways) by the “number of google hits”.

          • Sergio Méndez

            Sean:

            Google hits, are a product of social reality (nobody questions thta). From that, to jumping to the idiotic conclusion they are some sort of reliable indicator of some vague concept like the “black community”, there is an abyss. And yes, you don´t need even 30 seconds to figure it out (how much time took it to you to even come with that absurd idea?)

  • David

    “If conservatives had not insisted on legislating their definition of marriage, there would be less hostility to their requests for religious liberty.”

    The use of the past tense here makes the same mistake as Douthat; you can’t plausibly request to negotiate the ‘terms of your surrender’ when your army is still fighting. Most of the country still has discriminator marriage laws, and conservatives are fighting to keep it that way.

    This post is long on accusations of hostility and short on actual arguments. Do you oppose non-discrimination rules in public accommodations generally (there are certainly plausible libertarian grounds for doing so), or do you merely oppose adding sexual orientation as a category of non-discrimination? Does a disagreement about the proper scope or anti-discrimination rules really amount to some people “coercively imposing their views on others”? How does an anti-discrimination rule ‘coercively impose views’ anyway? Because of the job I have chosen, I am properly not allowed to discriminate against students on the basis of their political or religious views; but I would never dream of saying such rules mean their views are somehow imposed on me, let alone coercively imposed on me. Why should non-believers accord sincere anti-gay theology more respect, say, sincere anti-miscegenation theology?

    • Kevin Vallier

      So I’m just making a simple point here. I deliberately linked to other posts where I’ve addressed these issues in more detail so I wouldn’t have to rehash everything here. I’ve also written on these matters in my forthcoming book, so I don’t think it’s entirely fair to me to fault the post for not saying what I’ve repeatedly said elsewhere.

      But I will say once again that I think there’s a deep disanalogy between the typical religious conscience case and racism. Here’s another way to put it. We fault racists because we think that their commitments are in some sense their responsibility. We think less of them precisely because we think they lack sincere reasons for opposing egalitarian treatment of racists. They’re driven by animus, not reason. Were there someone who was deeply, coherently and honestly committed to racial discrimination in her religious practices, I think we would think such an individual was tragically confused, but she would not merit the scorn we place on the ordinary racist.

      Analogies like yours, I think, involve an illicit and subtle transfer of ire rightly directed at the culpable racist to the non-culpable, conscientious racist. So if there were a case of genuine, coherent theological or philosophical reason-generating commitments that had anti-miscegenistic implications, then I think the person who has that view merits an exemption from coercive laws on particular conditions (that are worked out in detail in my forthcoming book and in an independent paper I’m writing right now). Consider, for instance, a devout Muslim man who believes that women should dress “modestly.” We think his beliefs probably imply some form of sexism, but let’s suppose that he’s not driven by any non-rational animus, just sincere religious belief. Do you really think it would be fair to force him to, say, photograph a wedding that he thought celebrated immodesty?

      And note that this has nothing to do with religion per se. It has to do with respecting conscience, secular or religious. If we really are prepared to acknowledge a right to liberty of conscience, it must extend to conscientious commitments we think are awful, so long as those commitments don’t involve coercively restricting the liberty of others or imposing harm on others. That’s why it’s unfair to force an evangelical Christian to provide a service to a lesbian couple who want her to photograph her wedding, but it’s not unfair for the state to refuse a store owner’s demand that all blacks be excluded from purchasing her products. In the first case, someone is being coerced against her will. In the second case, someone is insisting on coercing others.

      This allows me to answer one of your other questions too. An anti-discrimination law involves coercive imposition of views if people are coerced on the basis of reasons they coherently, rationally and non-culpably reject. If, say, an evangelical Christian doesn’t want to photograph a lesbian wedding based on her sincere religious convictions, then a law that compels her to do so anyway involves imposing an egalitarian conception of same-sex relations on her.

      • Farstrider

        There is a lot that is deeply wrong in this post Kevin.

        1. “We fault racists because we think that their commitments are in some sense their responsibility.”
        * I fault you for the same reason. You can change your mind about gay marriage tomorrow, Kevin. Lots of religious people have. Religious beliefs are fluid, and that fluidity is controlled by the user. Nothing requires you to follow every word of the bible; indeed, I bet you already have chosen not to follow some of its precepts, because they are crazy or obviously evil. Your failure to do the same thing in the case of gay marriage is on you, and YOU must suffer the social consequences of that belief.

        2. “Were there someone who was deeply, coherently and honestly committed to racial discrimination in her religious practices, I think we would think such an individual was tragically confused, but she would not merit the scorn we place on the ordinary racist.”
        * False. A confused racist is still a racist. They deserve the scorn a racist deserves. Note also that you are assuming that there is such a thing as an “ordinary racist” who is “driven by animus, not reason.” What is this assumption based on? People almost always have reasons for their beliefs and actions. The problem is, some of those reasons are bad reasons. A deeply ingrained belief that black people are inferior is a bad reason for action, whether it comes out of a religious book (as it often does) or not.

        3. “Analogies like yours, I think, involve an illicit and subtle transfer of ire rightly directed at the culpable racist to the non-culpable, conscientious racist.”
        * There is no such thing as a non-culpable racist. There may be an indifferent racist or a negligent racist, but they are still culpable, especially if they willfully refuse to change after this is pointed out to them. The same is true for homophobes: they are culpable for that decision.

        4. “Consider, for instance, a devout Muslim man who believes that women should dress “modestly.” We think his beliefs probably imply some form of sexism, but let’s suppose that he’s not driven by any non-rational animus, just sincere religious belief.”
        * Question begging. That sincere religious belief IS non-rational animus. Moreover, it comes from a book written by sexist people and from a culture dominated by sexist people. Accordingly, neither the sincerity of the belief, the religious text it comes from nor the culture he was raised in insulates the sexist from fault.

        5. “That’s why it’s unfair to force an evangelical Christian to provide a service to a lesbian couple who want her to photograph her wedding, but it’s not unfair for the state to refuse a store owner’s demand that all blacks be excluded from purchasing her products. In the first case, someone is being coerced against her will. In the second case, someone is insisting on coercing others.”
        * There is no meaningful difference between these two scenarios. In both cases, the customer is coercing the provider of goods and services to sell to that customer. If the latter is ok (and I think it is), then the former is ok.

        6. “If, say, an evangelical Christian doesn’t want to photograph a lesbian wedding based on her sincere religious convictions, then a law that compels her to do so anyway involves imposing an egalitarian conception of same-sex relations on her.”

        * Nope. It forces her to provide goods and services to people she doesn’t approve of. It does not require her to approve of them. She can vociferously and stridently speak against them. But she must also accept the social consequences for doing so. That is a feature, not a bug, of the marketplace of ideas.

        • Kevin Vallier

          I think it’s clear from all of your replies to me in this post that you’re not willing to be even a little bit sympathetic or constructive with respect to what I’m arguing. Everything I say is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m not sure how constructive continued discussion will be.

          But before I respond, let me ask you to clarify one thing you say: “There is no such thing as a non-culpable racist.” Do you mean that as a matter of empirical fact all racists are morally culpable for their racism? Or do you mean something stronger, like that no one in principle can be a non-culpable racist? Or even, that necessarily a racist is culpable, or they wouldn’t conceptually count as a racist?

          I think your answer matters to our dispute. Quite a bit, in fact.

          • Farstrider

            Kevin,

          • Sean II

            “But once that racism is brought to her attention, she is culpable if she fails to amend her beliefs, words, and actions.”

            What if the person bringing racism to her* attention tells several obvious lies in the process?

            You know…lies which diminish the attention-bringer’s credibility? Doesn’t that limit the culpability of anyone who declines to listen to such a person?

            * Oh, yeah…we’re saying “her”! I feel so damn righteous I don’t know what to do with my righteous self.

          • Farstrider

            Sarcasm aside, I don’t think that matters. I think you can be nonculpable for bad conduct only if you truly have no idea it is bad and no one has ever challenged you on that point.

            But if a person challenges your beliefs or actions — even a reprehensible person, using reprehensible means — you can no longer take refuge in ignorance. You have to (a) ignore the challenge, (b) consider the challenge and change your behavior or (c) consider the challenge and keep on doing the same thing. You are culpable for whichever option you choose.

          • Sean II

            Insane standard, that. Impossible to live by.

            Among other things, here’s what it would mean – and let’s use sex for a moment, instead of race.

            A kid goes to college, and let’s say he’s got some sexist opinions tucked in with his sweat clothes. Once there, he gets “challenged” in his views by some definitely reprehensible people using some no-doubt-about-it reprehensible means.

            The reprehensible people lead off with an obvious falsehood, because they tell the kid “there are no sex differences save those which are socially constructed.” How does the kid know this obvious falsehood is false? Because he’s a human being living on planet earth in normal possession of his senses.

            As you have it, funny man, the kid is morally obliged at this point in the story to say: “Hey, wait a minute, these incredibly creepy, intrusive ideologues whose first move was to tell me an absurd lie in a unpleasantly insistent way…clearly, I have much to learn from them. Whatever happens now, the fact is I’m wrong and I’m culpable.”

            That’s ridiculous.

          • DavidRHenderson

            I don’t agree that it’s ridiculous. It’s just highly unlikely. We would all love to be corrected by honest people in loving ways. Unfortunately, we have to play the hand we’re dealt. That doesn’t mean that I would reject the kid in your above hypothetical.

          • Farstrider

            Sorry, you don’t get to reject the message just because you find the messenger distasteful. Or rather, you are responsible for making that choice.

            (You really can’t post without an insult, can you? You sometimes have thoughtful contributions to make. I wish you could rise to that level all the time.)

          • Sean II

            I never unleash an insult without a reason. Today my reason is: I can’t stand your moralistic posturing. It deserves to be mocked.

            The idea that everyone becomes culpably racist (or sexist) the minute they encounter a single argument against racism (or sexism) – no matter how bad the argument, now matter how much noise and nonsense is packaged with it, no matter how offensive the manner of its delivery, no matter how untrustworthy the source – that idea is ridiculous.

            So ridiculous, in fact…that no one could have come by it naturally.

            One would have to start with the conclusion: “Racism is one of the worst things in the universe, and all racists are bad people”, and worked backwards from there. Which, come to think of it, is probably what you did…

            Now there’s a culpable sin: rationalizing one’s prejudices, in order to free oneself from the obligation to understand people who don’t share them.

          • Farstrider

            Other than just making up stuff, do you have an argument?

            I did not reach this conclusion working backwards from racism. I actually reached it working backwards from slavery. I think a biblical-era slave holder might be less culpable than a Confederate-era slave holder, because the former might be able to plausibly claim he did not know better. The Confederate cannot make that claim – the arguments were available to him, and he was either willfully blind to them or rejected them. In either event he was culpable. I suppose you would say that because some abolitionists were untrustworthy, made bad arguments or packaged nonsense with their arguments, the Confederate gets a pass? Sorry, I’m not that charitable. I believe in personal responsibility.

            Let me offer a silly example to illustrate my point. (Though I doubt you’ll bother to give it any thought, perhaps others may find it interesting.) Suppose we learn tomorrow that baseballs are sentient creatures that feel pain. If I had gone to batting practice today, I would have inflicted a lot of pain on baseballs, but I wouldn’t be culpable, because I had no idea of the moral dimension of my conduct. But if I went after learning this, I would be culpable for that pain. And I would not be able to duck responsibility, even if someone as distasteful as you had made this breakthrough discovery.

          • Sean II

            Listen yourself: “I’m not going to give evil a pass”…”I believe in personal responsibility”.

            Words like that have always been used by people who want to dispense with the trial and go straight to the hanging.

            Why deal with all the inconvenient little nuances in life, when you can brush them aside with some fist-pounding bullshit about “evil” and “personal responsibility”.

            Q: What’s the difference between the people of Athens Greece 440BC, and the people of Athens Georgia 1850AD?

            A: There is no difference. In both cases, YOU are completely certain in knowing what they deserve, and what they may or may not be forgiven.

            What qualifies you to be so certain? Why, the same thing that qualifies every moralizing simp who ever claimed the right to judge without doing the work of judgement: you won’t give evil a pass, you believe in personal responsibility.

          • Farstrider

            Other than personal attacks, and your failure to read (my answer to your question is actually 180 degrees off what you say it is, as you would know if you read the post), do you have an argument in favor of any position?
            Why do you think religious bigots are less culpable than other bigots? Neither Kevin nor his “resected gall bladder” have offered such an argument. By all evidence, you have none either.

          • DavidRHenderson

            Well argued, Farstrider.

          • Sean II

            No it wasn’t. This joker claims to be anti-Catholic, and yet look how very Christian is his own theory.

            Farst believes that anyone who has heard the Good News of equality without embracing it immediately is damned.

            Now where have I heard that before?

          • Farstrider

            I’m actually making an argument for personal responsibility, something I thought people on this board might regard favorably. Who knew there would be libertarians looking for ways to make people not responsible for their choices?

          • Sean II

            That you would make such a statement only proves you failed to study this board before bringing it the gift of your flawless moral clarity. Read more, write less. This place does not need your subtlety-free, tent-revival preaching.

            I don’t often agree with him – in fact, I almost never agree with him – but from what you’ve shown here, it’s pretty clear that Kevin Vallier’s resected gall bladder could beat you in a debate about ethics.

          • Farstrider

            Once again, Sean resorts to insults rather than argument.

          • Sean II

            Wrong. I mix insults with arguments, and you use the former as an excuse to ignore the latter.

            Just to be clear…my argument with you is this: you don’t actually know, you have no means of knowing, and you are wrong to claim you know, at what point other people become morally culpable for their mistakes.

            And the hilarious thing is you, flogging that mad prejudice all over this thread, do so in the name of fighting against prejudice.

            So tell us, please, tell us all: at exactly what point did it become culpably wrong to be a homophobe. What was it, 2003…2006…a week ago last Tuesday…what?

            How many years after YOU hopped in the gay marriage bandwagon…how many years did you wait before deciding it was okay to condemn everyone who wasn’t on it with you? Give us a number.

          • Sean II

            Excuse me, I meant to say “Give us a number, fucko.”

          • Farstrider

            “I mix insults with arguments, and you use the former as an excuse to ignore the latter.”
            I’m actually engaging you, although not for your benefit, but for others who may be interested in a real conversation. It’s plainly wasted on you. Watch! I’ll engage again below. (I’ll be sure to flag my “engagement” from now on since you apparently can’t find it.)
            So, your position is that because I cannot identify a precise date that morality evolved, it therefore never changed? Everything that was moral 4000 years ago must still be moral today, because I can’t find the precise minute when people should have known better? Obviously, that is silly.

          • Sean II

            You didn’t answer the question. Please tell me when it became inexcusable to be racist, sexist, heterosexist, whatever you like.

            If you can’t give me a precise date, give me a vague one. If you have to, give me one for Kentucky and another for Kazakhstan.

            If you can’t give me even a vague date, then just tell me how you decide who’s culpable and who’s not. What are the rules of the game?

            These are simple questions…at least according to you, Mr. Moral Certainty, they are simple questions.

            So go ahead and answer them.

          • Farstrider

            I never said they were empirically simply to answer, so that is a strawman. The original question asked whether it was ever possible to be a nonculpable racist. I provided a hypothetical example, not an empirical one. You attack the hypothetical for being too hypothetical, which is obviously pointless. But just as obviously, morality does change over time.

            If your only criticism is that it is difficult to identify the precise minute a moral shift occurred, but you nonetheless concede that it happens, you are really not making a substantive point. People can not know, or reasonably differ, on when events happened. But only a fool would therefore argue from that ignorance or disagreement alone that the events never happened.

          • Kevin Vallier

            So my thought is that if one can be non-culpably racist, then there is a case to be made for treating the culpably racist person differently from the non-culpable one. And you anticipated my reply, which is that many religious people are more like the non-culpable one. They’re making a moral mistake, but they’re morally excused. But I can’t see that the fact that we’re having a debate leaves all religious people with no excuse. Many did not pay much attention to the debate because there were more important things going on in their lives than politics. Many paid attention but simply came away with a different view. So surely there are some religious people who oppose homosexual sex on a non-culpable basis. And these people, I think, arguably merit legal respect. There is, after all, a right to be wrong.

          • Farstrider

            You say “I can’t see that the fact that we’re having a debate leaves all religious people with no excuse.” In my view, it is the ONLY thing that robs them of an excuse. We all have our prejudices. I certainly do. But we are not culpable for them ONLY if they are truly unknown and unchallenged.

            But no one — certainly no one who has taken a stance on gay marriage — can claim this level of ignorance. The arguments are available to anyone who is willing to listen. What’s more, these arguments are carrying the day. You don’t have to agree with them — as you say, you have a right to be wrong — but if you are going to choose a side, take responsibility for your choice.

        • Al Bundy

          Just a small point but in regards to #4, believing women should dress modestly is not sexist. believing women should dress modestly AND men should dress however they want is sexist. Maybe this is what your implying but it wasn’t clear.

          As far as Islam goes, certainly much of the culture is sexist in practice, but the rules of hijab (modesty, privacy, morality) are actually meant to apply to both men and women:

          http://www.al-islam.org/islamic-hijab-al-balagh/responsibility-hijab-man-and-woman

          • Farstrider

            That’s a fair point. IF it was applied across genders, it would not be sexist, although it would be open to other attacks.

      • TracyW

        But didn’t a number of racists say they had a religious motivation? Something about the sons of Noah, I vaguely recall. (It’s not like I study this in depth).

      • j r

        We fault racists because we think that their commitments are in some sense their responsibility. We think less of them precisely because we think they lack sincere reasons for opposing egalitarian treatment of racists. They’re driven by animus, not reason. Were there someone who was deeply, coherently and honestly committed to racial discrimination in her religious practices, I think we would think such an individual was tragically confused, but she would not merit the scorn we place on the ordinary racist.

        This is a fairly arbitrary distinction and not one borne out by the facts. In the United States, racism is as much a part of the metaphysical foundation as religion is. In fact, you can make a fairly convincing case that white supremacy was more fundamental to the first 150 years of American history than Christianity was. The war that killed the most Americans wasn’t fought over which alter to kneel in front of.

    • TracyW

      you can’t plausibly request to negotiate the ‘terms of your surrender’ when your army is still fighting

      I thought that that happened all the time. After all, you have much more leverage while you’re still fighting than after you’ve stopped.

  • Damien S.

    Religion vs. bigotry: how accepting would you be of claims that “I’m not a racist or bigot, it’s just that my religion teaches black people bear the mark of Cain and should remain separate from white people”?

    Or “I’m not sexist, it’s just that my religion teachers wives should be the chattel of their husbands”?

    • Farstrider

      Oh Damien! Shouldn’t I be able to negotiate the terms of my surrender on those points? You can’t call me a “bigot” just because I think blacks and women are inferior — it hurts my feelings!

      You are 100% right of course. Religious bigotry is just a type of bigotry. The fact that it is religious does not entitle it to any special treatment, and it is subject to the same criticisms that any other kind of bigotry gets.

    • Kevin Vallier

      See my response to David. I know lots of people think the racism-inegalitarian religiosity analogy is successful, but I think it breaks down on examination. Whatever it is, it is not a slam dunk. The analogy gets it power from the fact that we hold racists culpable for their attitudes, but the hostility that arises from that judgment does not transfer to many religious people. Accordingly, if there were someone whose conscientious commitments had sexist or homophobic or racist implications, then they would generate sufficient reason to exempt them from laws in certain cases (I’m working out a standard in a paper now). But I don’t think that’s absurd because I don’t think we would be hostile to them in the same way we are to racists, given their internal constitution. They would be non-culpably racist or sexist.

      To see the analogy in a bit more detail, imagine (it won’t be hard for you to do so) that the Catholic Church’s teaching on women in the priesthood is ultimately sexist. Would it be fair to compare Catholics to racists if their conscientious commitments required them to avoid Catholic Churches where women were ordained as priests? That would be a sexist theology, but we certainly do not think that people who believe it should be treated with scorn based on the fact that they’re driven by simple animus. Instead, we think they’re confused!

      • Farstrider

        “Would it be fair to compare Catholics to racists if their conscientious commitments required them to avoid Catholic Churches where women were ordained as priests?”

        I don’t see how this helps you even a little bit. A Catholic WOULD be racist if they refused to go to a Catholic Church with a black priest solely because the priest is black. It does not matter whether the person is “confused” or driven by animus, they are still racist and should be called out for being racist. Religious racism is still racism. Confused racism is still racism.

      • good_in_theory

        “That would be a sexist theology, but we certainly do not think that people who believe it should be treated with scorn based on the fact that they’re driven by simple animus. Instead, we think they’re confused!”

        I don’t follow this. The patriarchal structure of the Catholic church is not a matter of confused principles; it’s a matter of sexist principles. Doctrinaire Catholics aren’t confused about their religion, they straightforwardly and clearly believe that sexism is justified within their religion, and rightfully so, as far as the history of Catholicism goes, afaik.

        • Kevin Vallier

          You don’t think that’s just a smidgen uncharitable?

          • good_in_theory

            What’s uncharitable about it? The Catholic Church has held it as a matter of basic doctrine that women can’t be clergy for nearly two thousand years. What is there for an individual Catholic to be confused about? Qua their religion, the sexes are inherently unequal and men are entitled to positions of authority from which women are excluded.

          • Farstrider

            Kevin, the logic is straightfoward.
            1. Catholic doctrine excludes women from the priesthood.
            2. Excluding women from a job is sexist.
            3. Therefore, Catholic doctrine is sexist.
            If you agree with the first two points, you have to go concede the third. If you disagree with point 1 or 2, you have to explain why.

          • Sergio Méndez

            We can add another premise to strenghten the argument:

            1. Catholic doctrine excludes women from the priesthood.
            2. Catholics as a matter of doctrine exclude women from a job (priesthood)

            3. Catholics as a matter of doctrine consider that women must be submissive to man (in the institution of marriage).
            3. Therefore, Catholic doctrine is sexist.

  • I’m hostile to your claim that getting to opt out of paying for your employee’s contraceptives on religous grounds is, because you have to fill out a form, in fact a burden on religous liberty because it’s a dumb claim.

    • Kevin Vallier

      I think you’re recycling the Obama Administration line on Little Sisters of the Poor. The ACA explicitly says that this form will count as an authorization on behalf of the signing party to give their authority to another group to provide contraception. This they cannot do in good conscience. I get it when it comes to anti-gay discrimination or big businesses like Hobby Lobby, but for goodness sake, leave the nuns alone!

      • Farstrider

        “…this form will count as an authorization on behalf of the signing party to give their authority to another group to provide contraception. This they cannot do in good conscience.”
        Thank you for perfectly illustrating what I have said all along: that this debate has nothing to do with religious liberty for the employer and everything to do with forcing religious views on employees.

        • Kevin Vallier

          That does not remotely follow from my quoted comment. So color me confused.

          • Farstrider

            It’s one thing to say “I don’t agree with X and therefore will not pay for it.” It’s quite another to say “I don’t agree with X and I want to interfere with others who want to do X.” Your quote appears to be the latter, but I’m willing to be corrected on that.

          • Kevin Vallier

            They’re not going to stop anyone from paying for it. They’re just not willing to say that another group has their authority to do so. That’s not an attempt at control. It’s an attempt to avoid what many Catholics regard as material cooperation with evil.

          • Farstrider

            What you call “cooperation with evil” is actually “letting other people do what they want.” Only one of these is compatible with freedom.

          • Theresa Klein

            Why does other people doing what they want require any “authorization” whatsoever from the Little Sisters of the Poor?

          • Farstrider

            Yes my point exactly. Why should they have a say in that?

          • Theresa Klein

            The only reason they have any say is because the ACA requires them to pay for their employees health insurance.

          • Damien S.

            Yes. Which is part of the employee compensation. If they got money with which to buy insurance directly, the Little Sisters would have no grounds for complaint. As there’s no substantive difference with artificially routing it through the employer, I have no sympathy with them.

            Hmm, libertarians and freedom of contract: should employers have the right to require that employees not buy contraceptive-covering insurance, or contraception directly, at all, as a condition of employment?

          • Theresa Klein

            should employers have the right to require that employees not buy contraceptive-covering insurance, or contraception directly, at all, as a condition of employment?
            Sure, why not? Religious institutions should be allowed to hire only people of their own faith if they want. And if they find out that employees are doing things that violate the tenets of the faith, they should be allowed to fire them.

          • Farstrider

            Religious institutions can do this, but they often choose not to, so as to get better employees. If a religious institution chooses to act like a secular employer when it is convenient, why shouldn’t they be required to act like a secular employer when it is inconvenient?

          • Theresa Klein

            Personally I think secular employers should be able to impose any conditions they want on employment too.
            Mandatory wearing of uniforms. No employees that do drugs or drink in their private time. Whatever. At will employment is legal in most states.

          • Farstrider

            No Jews? No blacks? All is fair game?

          • Les Kyle Nearhood

            In my Opinion yes, Now it may be considered at one time that bigotry was so widespread that laws were needed to protect minorities. But I do not think those conditions apply any longer. Anyone who did discriminate would do so to their own detriment, And they would also suffer from protests. However my views of liberty dictate that this should be allowed.

      • It says the form will be “treated as designating the third party adminstrator as the plan administrator,” which is not the same thing, to my mind, as saying that the form is an authorization.

        Even better, they don’t even have to designate the third party administrator as the plan administrator. They just send in a form stating they are a religous organization within the rules definition. That’s all they have to explicitly say or acknowledge. The goverment then treats that the same as if they had explicitly designated the third party administrator, but explicitly doesn’t ask them too.

        It’s almost like this is a good faith attempt to minimally burden religion while accomplishing the statutes purpose!

        • Kevin Vallier

          I think you’re misinterpreting it. If you weren’t, why do you think even Sonia Sotomayor granted an injunction, and then why would the Supreme Court agree with her?

          • Because which party will prevail on the merits is only one balancing factor out of, like, 5 when considering a motion for an injunction, and can be an especially unimportant factor in politically sensitive cases. Besides, I’ve got judge Posner on my side if you want juristic street cred.

            Also, I was pretty sure Little Sisters were arguing that the law burdens them by forcing them to seek an insurer who covers contraceptives and by making them trigger contraceptives coverage by signing the waiver, not that the law forces them to impliedly authorize the coverage. Triggering something and authorizing it are, obviously, different. Do you have some clause in the rules or argument in their petition that you are thinking of?

          • Kevin Vallier

            When I read the petition, it sure looked like an authorization claim. If it’s a mere causal claim, the objection is much harder to sustain, obviously. Otherwise I don’t understand the complaint at all. What I understand of Catholic doctrine is that material cooperation with evil requires something more than simply having one’s action lead to another action. We can go to the text if you like.

          • Kevin Vallier

            Here’s what the Little Sisters are saying via the Becket Fund: “Appellants can only comply with that requirement by either (1) providing the required coverage in their health plans, or (2) signing and incorporating into their health plans a form authorizing, directing, and creating legal obligations and incentives for third party administrators of their health care plan to provide the coverage.” http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/LSP-CA10-Opening-Brief-AS-FILED-No-addendum.pdf

          • Yeah, I reread some of their filings and you’re right and I’m wrong on the “what are they claiming” issue. I think I let my biases govern my first skimming.

            That said, I still think it is very weird to object to the law “you must do x, and government will treat you doing x as you doing y for certain purposes” on the grounds that you object to doing y. The government treating a statement of belief as a designation of an insurance provider does not turn it into one. And while the courts shouldn’t generally judge which beliefs are right and wrong, heartfelt religious objections to a law which are rooted in a basic misunderstanding of the law’s legal effect and meaning should not be valid for RFRA purposes. That’s not judging beliefs; it’s judging legal analysis.

            I might have different views if the rule didn’t “treat” the certification as a designation, but rather said it would serve or function as a designation. Actually making religious non-profits affirmatively designate someone to take their place would seriously undercut the accommodation. I just don’t think that is happening with the rule as written.

          • Kevin Vallier

            Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I see your point, and I can see the Little Sisters of the Poor deciding that just because the government counts the form as an authorization doesn’t make it so. But given that the law is so influential and the federal government so powerful, I think their view that the government’s regarding it as a legal authorization makes it an authorization is understandable.

          • M Lister

            If you weren’t, why do you think even Sonia Sotomayor granted an injunction,

            We went through this before, Kevin, but granting an injunction like this isn’t a statement on the merits. How can you tell? Judges, in cases like this, _often_ put stays _on their own judgments!_ Surely they don’t think they judgment they just gave is wrong, but they will often stay them in cases like this. You’re just confused about what Sotomayor’s actions mean in this case. You’re not a lawyer, so that was understandable, but really, it doesn’t mean what you think it does, and a few minutes of looking at people who actually know something about how the law works will show it. You should stop this line of reasoning, as it’s ignorant and repeating it makes you look as if you either don’t care about the facts or are intentionally misleading.

          • Kevin Vallier

            We did discuss this and I thought we decided that it was prima facie but not conclusive evidence. Also, don’t you think you’re being a bit harsh? Something about this post seems to let people think they can talk to me however they like. It is the internet, but dang.

          • M Lister

            I absolutely did not think that Sotomayor’s action was prima facie evidence for anything _she_ believed. It _might be_ (but need not be) some evidence for the claim that she thinks a number of justices will take the claim seriously. But even that isn’t required for her actions. As someone who is a lawyer and has worked on federal courts, I can tell you with certainty that her actions in no way justify the conclusion you’re drawing from them. Once again, the best way to know this is to see that judges do this _with their own decisions_ all the time. They obviously think those decisions are right on the merits, or else they wouldn’t reach them. So, you can’t draw this conclusion. You should stop suggesting that you can. No one who knows anything about how courts work thinks this. If they suggest otherwise, you can know they are either trying to mislead you or do not know what they are talking about. Really, it’s that simple. (Also, Sotomayor did it, as opposed to some other justice, because of purely formal reasons- which justice does this is decided by a formula. And, being professionals, they typically apply formal reasoning in these cases. That’s clearly what’s happened here.) I’m sorry if this comes across as harsh, but really, there is absolutely 0 merit in the claim you’re making about Sotomayor. (And note that this would be true even if she ends up voting the way you think she should- my point is just that you can’t tell what the judge thinks about the merits from this action, so you shouldn’t suggest you can.)

          • Kevin Vallier

            Upon further research and discussing the matter with a prominent constitutional law and religion scholar I am admitting publicly and for as long as this post exists, that you are correct and that I am wrong. A federal court issuing an injunction is not even prima facie evidence of their views on the merits. In the Little Sisters case, the documents not only say that the injunction does not imply anything about the merits of the case, but there is no well-established correlation between the SCOTUS’s issuing of injunctions and its decision-making that I can discover. Again, I am wrong and you are right. I will do my best to remember to never again claim that injunctions are evidence of a US constitutional court’s views on the merits of a case. I will also email you about this privately, but I wanted to start with a public, permanent statement.

        • Kevin Vallier

          Also, I should add that “designation” and “authorization” aren’t all that far apart.

  • Irfan Khawaja

    Ah, so you’re “dismayed at the hostility” with which your views have been met here. Good.

    I can’t speak for the sum total of that hostility, but I can certainly speak for my own. Let me be the first to plead “guilty” to straightforward hostility to you–not to your policy positions per se (I agree with the ones you defend here, and am not apt to accuse those asking for religious exemptions of hypocrisy), but to your consistent propensity to poison just about every discursive well you approach when you discuss religion, followed by your consistent refusal to engage with those who call you out when you do so. You demand “respect” for your views and for those of your co-religionists, but exude disrespect for any interlocutor who takes direct issue with the BS you sling.

    Maybe the “lack of respect” you accurately perceive is focused specifically on you and your discursive conduct, and not on religion as such or religious people in general. A hypothesis worth considering, and one that perhaps explains why one might find himself wondering why anyone should give a damn about anything you say on this or related topics, much less have the “respect” for you that you keep demanding but that your discursive practices belie. So the dismay goes both ways, I’m afraid. Inquire more diligently into why, and the answer shall be given unto you.

  • Irfan Khawaja

    Ah, so you’re “dismayed at the hostility” with which your views have been met here. Good.

    I can’t speak for the sum total of that hostility, but I can certainly speak for my own. Let me be the first to plead “guilty” to straightforward hostility to you–not to your policy positions per se (I agree with the ones you defend here, and am not apt to accuse those asking for religious exemptions of hypocrisy), but to your consistent propensity to poison just about every discursive well you approach when you discuss religion, followed by your consistent refusal to engage with those who call you out when you do so. You demand “respect” for your views and for those of your co-religionists, but exude disrespect for any interlocutor who takes direct issue with the BS you sling.

    Maybe the “lack of respect” you accurately perceive is focused specifically on you and your discursive conduct, and not on religion as such or religious people in general. A hypothesis worth considering, and one that perhaps explains why one might find himself wondering why anyone should give a damn about anything you say on this or related topics, much less have the “respect” for you that you keep demanding but that your discursive practices belie. So the dismay goes both ways, I’m afraid. Inquire more diligently into why, and the answer shall be given unto you.

  • Bobb

    You’ve got it backwards. If perhaps we thought that “gay” marriage would be the end of it, then we would stop fighting it, but it won’t be. They will then fight for the anti- discrimination laws, after that you can bet that they will fight to make it illegal for Christians to even preach their beliefs in schools or public, and then give or take 50 years from now it will be illegal to be a practicing Christian. That’s the road were headed down.

    IOW It’s them who loses credibility with us because they don’t know where to stop with these “gay rights”.

    Remember homosexuality is not a race or state of being. It’s an intrinsic psychological disorder, so why should we give any special priviledges for “homosexuals”? And no, for those who disagree and think that it’s genetic, we’ve mapped the human genome so we know it’s not.

    • good_in_theory

      Religious belief much better qualifies as an intrinsic psychological disorder than homosexuality. Whether something has genetic determinants or not is irrelevant, but disposition to believe in religion also has genetic determinants, so if you’re going to stand on that hill…

      • Sean II

        Not least of all because religious belief is demonstrably harmful in such a huge number of cases, whereas homosexuality is not.

        Irresistible example of the moment: for centuries religious belief has inspired people to do abandon their homosexual children.

        Talk about unnatural…

    • TracyW

      Why is homosexuality an intrinsic psychological disorder? What business of yours is it what consenting adults do in their own bedrooms?

    • Sergio Méndez

      Aside from the complete innanity in thinking the road we are headed now will end with banning the practize of christianity, can you clarify what the heck do you mean with the supposed “special priviledges for “homosexuals”?

  • Alastair James

    Kevin, in all your comments I don’t think you have given a rational reason why someone who is not superstitious should treat opinions motivated by religion any differently than opinions motivated by any other reason. I see no categorical distinction between saying “I am homophobic because I am a Catholic” and saying “I am racist because I am a nazi”. Part of the problem in this debate is the use of the word morality to mean two different things. The first is “rules worked out through rational debate and evolving social convention which make it easier for us all to get along without hurting each other” and the other is “rules I read in a very old book”. There is clearly a big overlap of those two sets. But when you put forward a proposed moral convention I don’t find which book you read it in relevant to the quality of the argument.

    • TracyW

      Well if someone believes they’re going to hell if they don’t follow a set of rules, that’s quite a big stressor on them. I think society is wise not to push people on that point unnecessarily.

    • Kevin Vallier

      I’m pretty stunned at this reply. You see no difference between religious objections to endorsing the moral permissibility of homosexual sexual acts and the racial doctrines of Nazis? I’m not really sure how to convince you to change your mind when you’ve appealed to, well, the most extreme and uncharitable analogy available.

      • Alastair James

        I apologise – too extreme an analogy which has obscured my point. Let me have another go…
        If the question you are asking is “should the law make an exception about rules on discrimination on religious beliefs but not on grounds of political beliefs” then my answer is “no” because I don’t see any categorical difference in the basis of the discrimination. I think a more reasonable question is “should the state legislate against discrimination in market interactions” to which my answer is also “no”. So I don’t think Government law should stop a guest house from refusing to host homosexuals or people of a different race. However I also don’t think that Government law should stop me from putting up a billboard opposite the guest house saying “the people who run this guest house are supertitious, homophobic bigots. Please don’t patronise them”. Is this a pleasant way to conduct ourselves? Not at all and I would prefer it that people with prejudices, deeply held on whatever grounds, would accept live and let live. But if they don’t then I think it quite reasonable to respond. Now I also think, on the same grounds, that a commercial property owner should be free to specify in a lease that any tenants should not discrimnate in who they serve and I also think that an employer should be able to specify in a contract that the employee must not discriminate. Of course logically I also think that a freeholder could specify that tenants do disciminate! But if they do that I’ll be buying up more advertising space.

        • Kevin Vallier

          Thanks for the thoughtful response. I actually agree with you that religious and political beliefs are on a moral and legal par with respect to what sorts of protection they merit. The question is whether these beliefs, religious or political, are motivated by animus and a drive to cause harm or something, well, less wicked, harmful and culpable.

          • Damien S.

            I think you’re inventing a non-existent distinction based on your sympathy with the religious anti-contraception side. A racist isn’t necessarily malicious. “Bless those darkies, if only they knew their place and weren’t stirred up by Northern liberals.” And harm comes from effect, not intention.

    • martinbrock

      The first is “rules worked out through rational debate and evolving social convention which make it easier for us all to get along without hurting each other” and the other is “rules I read in a very old book”.

      I’ll add “rules that my friends and I choose to follow amongst ourselves even if Alastair thinks they aren’t ‘rational'”.

  • David

    Kevin, reading through the comments here I understand your position better. I’m highly skeptical of the significance of the distinction you want to make, but I’ll say no more about that until I’ve read more of your work on the subject.

    But assuming you are ultimately successful in establishing a morally relevant distinction between culpable and non-culpable racists and homophobes, and that the latter have a justified demand to discriminate that the former do not, it would seem to me you’d probably have to more or less completely abandon non-discrimination law in public accommodations to implement that right. Translating this rather delicate moral distinction into a workable political rule would mean granting the state powers and duties that involve making fine distinctions about the state of mind of would-be discriminators, identifiying differences between animus-motivated and reason-motivated discrimination. While I’m generally more optimistic about the capacity of the state to do things than your average libertarian, I’m nowhere near that optimistic. Any kind of sincerity exception will be easily exploitable by the non-sincere, right?

    Maybe that’s worth it–maybe you want to argue that the liberty loss for the non-culpable racist is worth the costs associated with the abandonment of anti-discrimination law in public accommodations (I’d except many libertarians to reach this view), but once we move from moral to political questions we surely have to take into account the kind of tasks the state is more and less well-suited to accomplish. Am curious if how, if at all, your work considers this angle.

    • Kevin Vallier

      David, thank you for your thoughtful reply. This thread has been a rather … difficult one in that regard. I don’t think I’m committed to discrimination in public accommodation because that form of discrimination requires the state to use coercion against the discriminated in a public and plainly stigmatizing fashion.

      If Walmart decided to exclude blacks, it would require massive use of state coercion to stop protest and the entry of African-Americans all over the country. On my public reason view, Walmart is not entitled to that use of state power. But Elaine Huguenin, the Christian wedding photographer that did not want to photograph a gay wedding, is entitled to discriminate. I think it is best for secular folks and liberal religious folks to view has as making a non-culpable moral mistake. Further, she is not excluding gays from her store (in fact, she photographs gays and lesbians in all other contexts), she is just declining to use her body and her camera to artistically endorse something she thinks God forbids.

      I think there is a world of difference between, say, my racist Walmart case and Huguenin in part because genuine moral mistakes are possible and because of the nature of the discrimination claim. She is not requiring the state use force to stop someone from entering a piece of property oriented towards providing a service to the general public. She is refusing to perform a service with her body and mind, which seems to me quite different.

      Now, I still think she would be entitled to exclude gays and lesbians from her home or her church (though I don’t think she would), though I assume you would too.

      But this is my way of saying that I do think there’s a case to be made that the public-private distinction matters in a way that libertarians often deny and that we think different standards are justified to govern activities in the public domain. We’ve decided through a long process to think of businesses as more public than churches or homes, and so I think we can justify different legal treatment in some cases.

      • David

        OK, but in crafting the examples that present a clear distinction, I feel the waters have been muddied a bit. I thought the distinction between culpable and non-culpable motivations and beliefs behind the discriminatory act. Now it seems you’re saying its also about the potential demand on state resources. That the two line up nicely in your examples is convenient, but that can’t really be what’s going on. My right to exclude black people from my home categorically isn’t diminished by the need for increased state resources due to a group of black people attempting to access my property against my wishes regularly. The police aren’t authorized to decide I’ve used my fair share of resources for property protection as a reason to decline to protect me against trespassers, even if I only regard them as trespassers for reasons for discriminatory reasons.

        The other way these examples muddy the waters is the seeming reliance on the size of the discriminating economic organization. It’s easier to imagine an individual owner holding what you call non-culpable discrimination-motivating views than a global corporation. But again, the examples seem chosen to avoid difficult boundary drawing exercises, which we’re presumably trusting the state to do. Is size of economic organization a reliable proxy for sorting culpable and non-culpable motivations for discrimination? And if so, how big would Elaine’s operation need to be before her claim to discrimination for permissible reasons loses credibility?

        • martinbrock

          The police aren’t authorized to decide I’ve used my fair share of resources for property protection as a reason to decline to protect me against trespassers, …

          I suppose the police are authorized to decide that protecting your property is too costly, and even if they aren’t, they necessarily must do so.

        • Kevin Vallier

          I did introduce a complicating factor, but that’s because I think making a judgment about non-discrimination law requires appealing to multiple factors. The distinction between culpable and non-culpable motivations is one factor, the coercion involved in protecting the discriminator is a factor, and the size of the organization, which bears on its impact on the discriminated, is also a factor. My two cases are on either side of these three distinctions, which is what makes them clear. I don’t know how to draw the line. My point was merely to resist the racism-religion analogy.

    • martinbrock

      Translating this rather delicate moral distinction into a workable political rule would mean granting the state powers and duties that involve making fine distinctions about the state of mind of would-be discriminators, identifiying differences between animus-motivated and reason-motivated discrimination.

      Laws prohibiting racial and other discrimination already require making a fine distinctions about the state of mind of alleged discriminators, and the law must make this distinction in the context of more deception than would occur without the law. No business hangs out a “negros need not apply” sign anymore. If the proprietor wants to discriminate based on race, he finds some other pretext for the discrimination, so successfully penalizing the discrimination requires a fact finding process plumbing his state of mind. If the state couldn’t penalize the discrimination, he might hang out the sign, so at least the market could penalize him. As it is, when a black man now applies for a job, he has no idea whether or not his employer is a racist SOB.

  • martinbrock

    If conservatives had not insisted on legislating their definition of marriage, there would be less hostility to their requests for religious liberty.

    If marriage is a legal institution, rather than a contractual association, then any definition of marriage is necessarily legislated. The problem is that both “conservatives” and “liberals” want to impose one institution on everyone, and they want to impose different institutions.

    • Farstrider

      Not really the right way to frame it. The question is, whether state has or should have the power to exclude gay unions from the state-awarded benefits of marriage. Excluding some people from those legal benefits is an imposition. Allowing everyone to participate is, by definition, not.

      • martinbrock

        A state awarding benefits implies exclusion. All sorts of domestic partnership are excluded from benefits of marriage, cohabiting siblings, young adults living with parents, older parents living with children, not to mention single people. Single people don’t share expenses with a domestic partner but must subsidize the privileged partnerships. What sort of “equality” is that?

        Extending statutory benefits of marriage to gay couples does not restore equality. It only rewards one more faction of rent seekers.

        • Farstrider

          Fair enough. But that means you must argue no marriage for anyone. Nothing you say supports discrimination against gay marriage.

          • martinbrock

            I don’t support no marriage for anyone. I rather oppose state benefits for people in any sort of state sanctioned, romantic relationship. If you want a contractual partnership with someone, that’s fine with me. If you want a ceremony before friends and family, sacred or secular, solemnizing the relationship, that’s also fine with me. If you want to call this partnership “marriage”, that’s o.k. with me too. What you do with this partner, in bed or anywhere else, is none of my business and none of the state’s business.

            Benefits for children and the rights and obligations of their legal guardians, who typically are natural parents but could be a gay couple that manages to adopt or siblings caring for a niece or whatever, are a separate issue. Traditionally, this relationship was called “marriage”, but if “marriage” is now a contractual partnership without statutory strings and benefits attached, then the coparenting institution can have another name. I’m not hung up on the semantics.

            I’m very concerned that the only institution left, that specifically addressing the relationship between parents and their children, is “child support”. That’s an incredible tragedy of historic proportions. It’s not the fault of gay people.

          • Farstrider

            “I don’t support no marriage for anyone. I rather oppose state benefits for people in any sort of state sanctioned, romantic relationship.”
            The latter is what I meant by marriage. Indeed, it is the only topic up for debate.

          • martinbrock

            Then persuade me that the state should regulate romantic relationships by subsidizing some relationships at the expense of people outside of these relationships. “Straight couples can get perks, so gay couples should get perks too” is not an argument I can take seriously without any defense of the perks. If the perks for straight couples are indefensible, extending them to gay couples is not an improvement. If equality between gay and straight couples is the issue, withdrawing the perks from straight couples is also an option.

          • Farstrider

            No, I’m not going to do that. I tend to agree with you that the state should not be in the marriage business. My only point is, once it decides to get into that business, it cannot discriminate on religious grounds.

  • Theresa Klein

    If the basis for disagreeing with religious conservatives on the contraceptive mandate is just that they are being hypocritical, that is a rather shameful position to take. Are we really saying it’s ok to pass laws that impose burdens on the conscience of some individuals because those individuals are hypocrites? If that’s going to be the case, then nobody, anywhere, ever, is entitled to any freedom of conscience ever.
    Let him who has never been a hypocrite about anything cast the first stone.

    • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

      Excellent point! Even three-time felons get a fair trial for their fourth offense. That’s just the way that rights work.

  • famadeo

    “Instead of being content with relegating defenders of traditional marriage to cultural minority status, the left insists on branding everyone who holds to traditional marriage a bigot or anti-gay.”

    Sorry, but I can’t see any way around it. Anyone claiming that homosexuals as not fit for marriage, or less fit -or, to be precise, not fit or less fit to raise children- is being discriminatory. The fact that it happens in sentiment only makes no difference. A racist who does not bother black people is still a racist.

    “Where gays were once stigmatized (and still are), they now will be liberated and the stigma shifted to religious conservatives.”

    Right, and who will stand up for the prejudiced?

  • “There are many reasons for this hostility, among them the lack of respect for religious belief increasingly popular among progressives and American intellectual elites. ”
    With that single sentence, stuffed full of strawmen and recycled phrases that I am more used to hearing on talk radio, you make it extremely difficult for me to process the rest of your posting.
    Who ere these “intellectual elites” whom you sneer about? Why do you perceive that there is a lack of respect for religious belief? If you can answer your implied questions in this sentence first, you might have a better chance of being credible.

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      I for one have certainly seen not only a lack of respect, but also an outright hostility to religion in general, and Christianity in particular among nearly all groups who are not themselves predominantly christian. And on this website I have seen a rather lot of it in the past.

  • MTM

    Okay, I’m going to shatter a few illusions here and remind everyone that God made us, God owns us, and God has laid down one True Moral View for us in the Bible, which is His Inspired and Inerrant Word.

    While I understand that there are people who have same-sex attraction, and who may have even been born with it, God absolutely forbids homosexual behavior. Homosexual behavior is a choice; the wrong choice. I recommend that you learn to keep your pants zipped and your hands to yourself. Erase the porn. Throw out the KY Jelly. There you go.

  • Natan Kussler

    Religious liberty is always something that sounds very fine. Alas, if christianity was only about embracing Jesus and sharing love with others. However, it is not (or at least is not how it is seen to most of the christians). When you oppress or try to oppress so tightly a determined group, you know one day they’ll fight back, and they’ll fight back HARDLY because of their oppression, and that’s what’s happening with the gay group (and women, with the feminist movement). Christians don’t like this reaction and complain they are being “attacked”, not remembering it was them who first started the “attack”. The problem, as always, is that christians want their religious beliefs mixed with politics. Bible says man and women? Gay marriage banned. Bible says only god can kill? No euthanasia, and there forward.

    The day christians can keep their religious to themselves, they will be respected. But I don’t see that day coming. As Nietzsche said, the only true christian died on the cross.

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      Sure I agree that all religious groups should not try and use legislation and coercion. But don’t give me that tripe that if Christians all adopted a libertarian position they would be respected, nor would that save them from those trying to impose upon them legally. You are overplaying the aggressiveness of the religious groups and underplaying the very real hatred against them which is generated in some areas of society.

      • Natan Kussler

        As I said, the “hatred” against them come from generations of oppression and hate from christianity itself. If the christians adopted a libertarian position, the other side wouldn’t have a reason to fight back. Do you see people hating christians on libertarian countries like nordic countries in Europe? Considering these countries having a great number of atheists, I hear no “fight” or “hatred” against christianity at all on these countries.

        The hatred against christianity does not come from the religion itself, but from the conservative views of their followers and the insistence on wanting to bring their morals into politics. You don’t see people hating budism, taoism, spiritism (I’m not sure if that even exists in U.S, but it’s very popular here in Brazil) and stuff, but you see A LOT of “hate”, as you say, against christianity and muslims. Why is that? Because these people hate religion, or because they feel oppressed and need to fight back?

  • Pingback: angara fahise()

  • Pingback: http://www.recycletotes.com()

  • Pingback: bursa orospu()