Gay Rights and Religious Freedom Take the Stage

By | May 30, 2014
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Panel Discussion on Gay Rights and Religious Freedom


Photo credit: Maria Bryk

Should a rabbi be forced to give marriage counseling to a same-sex couple? Should a landlord who lives in the building be able to turn away an unmarried couple who wants to rent? Should a doctor be allowed to withhold reproductive services if doing so conflicts with his or her beliefs?

On the other hand, should a same-sex couple be able to adopt from a Catholic-affiliated non-profit? Should a lesbian couple be able to walk along a public pier as part of their commitment ceremony? How comparable is today’s struggle for same-sex rights to the history of civil rights and race in America?

These were some of the questions addressed by a symposium exploring the realms of gay rights and religious freedom—and whether any overlap lies between the two—co-sponsored by Moment and the Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C. this week. Coming on the heels of the controversial Hobby Lobby case (which deals with whether corporations must provide contraceptives when doing so conflicts with religious beliefs and recently went before the Supreme Court), the discussion was highly charged and far-reaching, and could have gone on far longer than the allotted hour and a half.

The overarching question was this: can both sets of rights be protected without greatly infringing one or the other? Our set of panelists was diverse, and had often been in the press with vastly disparate views: Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Jonathan Rauch, Professor of Law Robin Fretwell Wilson, General Counsel of the American Jewish Committee Marc D. Stern and God vs. Gay author Jay Michaelson. But while the answer was anything but simple, they made a genuine attempt to find common ground by illuminating historical benchmarks and major court cases that have set the stage for today’s struggle. Listen to the podcast below to hear their views. 

2 thoughts on “Gay Rights and Religious Freedom Take the Stage

  1. What about rights of a Agunot? Who has rights and who doesn’t? And who decides the laws for those rights?

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