There is a battle raging in the American discourse – a generous term at that. America prides itself on the freedoms it protects for its citizens, yet what happens when two freedoms are vehemently at odds with one another?
With the slow legalization of gay marriage in America, it calls into question to what extent is religious freedom allowed, and when, if ever, can it be limited?
The conflict between religious and LGBT freedoms is not only heated, but far from over. The questions their conflicting agendas raise are neither definite nor easy to answer.
Most of the disparities between the two, besides the general idea of the morality of legalizing gay marriage, occurs when a business denies service to a gay couple for explicitly religious reasons – the idea that homosexuality is a sin.
The arguments presented to state attorney generals are that these actions, denying services, are discriminatory.
At what point does a business no longer have a right to exercise their freedom, religious or not, to provide or deny services to whomever they see fit?
Nobody said this was easy.
Regardless of the fact that in order to deny service to a customer there has to be a clear business case for doing so, it does not mean denying service for any reason is inherently right. Religious activists see this is a stand against being forced to compromise their First Amendment rights.
One cannot buy a car or access the Internet without, in some way, supporting a company that approves of gay marriage and homosexual rights. The Big Three Detroit automakers, bastions of what America stands for, have been offering same-sex couples benefits for years. They certainly don’t limit their reach by not selling cars to people they feel are amoral.
If businesses don’t want to participate in the public marketplace they have agreed to service, it opens the door for other discriminatory possibilities. Could an atheist-managed business deny services to Christians without prejudice? Christians deny Muslims? New York Yankee fans deny Mets fans?
Yes, religious freedom is important to America. It’s one of the most important pillars this country was founded upon, yet with religious freedom comes the freedom from religion. Choosing to deny homosexuals because it’s sinful should make all sinners unserviceable.
The idea behind America is that one has the freedom to do whatever he or she wants, legally speaking, so long as it does not encroach upon the freedoms of others.
This battle is far from over, as both sides make a call to arms. Equality and freedom are two important elements that make America a unique and evolving landscape. But when two prodigious institutions are at odds, they have remarkable power to shape the country for generations to come.
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