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updated: 11/5/2013 1:26 PM

Barring gay marriage blocks religious freedom

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Bonnie Quirke makes the claim that "government policy must respect those who stand for marriage as a union of a man and a woman" and that "here are a growing number of incidents in which the government has ruled that the First Amendment does not protect those beliefs."

But the government cannot show preference to select moral or religious beliefs, or to any specific individual or group which holds them. It can and must however uphold the right to have specific beliefs.

The government is beholden under that amendment to protect not specific beliefs themselves, or even those who maintain singular beliefs, but the right to have those beliefs as opposed to others.

Ms. Quirke asks, "If there really is total religious freedom in gay marriage, then why do we have two bills pending in Congress to protect religious freedom?"

The point is that there is not. When citizens, gay and straight, of faiths such as Buddhism which allow gay marriage are forced to follow the "one man, one woman" definition of marriage as found in other faiths such as Christianity in order to access the right to marry at all, then everyone's religious freedom is at stake.

There is no religious freedom when any citizens are forced by law to follow faiths other than their own in order to access any civil right. And, there is the legal access to a right or no, but, as it is written into civil law, marriage is still a civil right, for gay as well as for straight citizens.

And as civil rights, including religious freedom, are bestowed on individual citizens first before the existence or creation of any political or religious group, the religious freedom of organizations to object does not by law trump the religious freedom of individuals, gay or straight, to be civilly married in the first place.

John F. Page


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