THE HOPE: Supreme Court Reaffirms Religious Liberty Despite Its Same-Sex Marriage Decision

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from Liberty Institute,

All justices reaffirm right to faith-based dissent on same-sex marriage.

In a five-four decision that shook the nation with controversy, the Supreme Court ruled a little over a week ago that all 50 states must permit and recognize same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion (joined by Justices Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayer and Kagan) and the four dissenters (Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) all recognized and reaffirmed religious American’s First Amendment rights to free speech and religious liberty.

In one key paragraph, Justice Kennedy makes three major recognitions concerning the importance of protecting religious freedom.

· First, Kennedy makes it indisputably clear that those with religious affiliations may live in accordance with their conscience regarding marriage:

Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.

· Second, Kennedy affirms that this protection is granted by the First Amendment. He also recognizes that the view of marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman has been long-held by many Americans, validating traditional marriage as a legitimate viewpoint:

The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.

· Third, Kennedy upholds a vital aspect of America’s political and cultural tradition by recognizing the importance of free debate, an activity central to our nation’s foundation:

In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.

n the midst of threats to religious organizations and individuals, Kennedy’s words offer a strong defense for freedom.

Despite Justice Kennedy’s affirmation of religious liberty in the recent Supreme Court marriage decision, prominent figures are already calling for the eradication of religious liberty. While such calls are a misuse of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, they are not unexpected. Dissenters in the SCOTUS decision expressed concerns that such fallout would occur, and experts at Liberty Institute have long warned of the clashes we are already seeing.

“Some people think, ‘this case was the end of the battle,’” CEO Kelly Shackelford says. “This is really the very beginning of the battle as to religious freedom…”

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