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Religious liberty has become call to action for conservatives

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3 2013 11:25 a.m. MDT

A proliferation of anti-discrimination ordinances was predicted by the Heritage Foundation's Thomas Messner, who in 2008 wrote a detailed analysis of the challenges same-sex marriage will pose for religious liberty. The lengthy piece reads like a white paper for traditional marriage proponents, warning them of inescapable social and legal conflicts surfacing when marriage is redefined.

"The conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty is due in part to how deeply intertwined the concept of marriage is in our civil law and how integrated religious individuals and institutions are in our society," he wrote. "Civil marriage is a legal concept that pervades the laws, regulations, and policies of the federal, state, and local governments and significantly affects the rights of married individuals and the duties due them by other parties. At the same time, religious individuals and institutions participate in all areas of public life, including in the public arena as government contractors and public employees and public school students and also in the private sector as professionals and charities and small businesses."

But conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote that religious liberty advocates should consider negotiating a truce with same-sex marriage proponents soon or else risk losing any protections for religious freedom at the end of a protracted legal and political battle.

"If religious conservatives are, in effect, negotiating the terms of their surrender," he wrote in his New York Times blog, "it’s at least possible that those negotiations would go better if they were conducted right now, in the wake of a Roe v. Wade-style Supreme Court ruling, rather than in a future where the bloc of Americans opposed to gay marriage has shrunk from the current 44 percent to 30 percent or 25 percent, and the incentives for liberals to be magnanimous in victory have shrunk apace as well."

Email: mbrown@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @deseretbrown

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