Tom Farr and Tim Shah, of Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project provided a polemic in today’s New York Times titled Religion in the Public Square. Therein they ask; Is religious freedom under threat in America today?

Towards the end of the piece, they write:

Which makes the effort to separate the religious and political threads
in the American tapestry all the more dangerous. In 2010, the U.S.
District Court Judge Vaughn Walker invalidated a California ballot initiative
for which millions of religiously motivated blacks and Latinos, among
others, had voted on the same day they cast ballots for Barack Obama.
The measure was Proposition 8, defining marriage as between a man and a
woman. The presence of religious arguments in the campaign led Judge
Walker to assert that the “moral and religious views” underpinning the
vote were not “rational,” rendering the measure unconstitutional.

The reason that Judge Walker invalidated Prop 8 is because proponents of the measure could not provide evidence or a witness to credibly explain what harm marriage equality poses to “traditional” marriage. The authors of this piece are confused. Judge Walker did not rule that religious views were not rational (I’ll refrain from stating the obvious). “Rational” in this case refers to a rational basis review.  This constitutionality test requires that the governmental action be rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Moreover, the First Amendment requires that laws have a secular purpose.

Again, proponents of Prop 8 failed to define what legitimate state interest is served by Prop 8. Indeed, their own witness conceded that America would be better served by allowing same-sex marriage.

This is becoming rather tiresome. Religious liberty does not mean the right to trample on the civil rights of others. My grandmother, who kept a Kosher home, never tried to shut down the local pork store.

Freedom means that people are free to practice their religion     not impose it on others.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.