Even before the Supreme Court’s decision granting same-sex couples a constitutional right to wed, legal scholars and others have been trying to determine how such a ruling might affect religious institutions. It has been a question on the minds of the justices, too.
Indeed, during the April 28 oral arguments in the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, most of the justices asked about or commented on this issue. Justice Samuel Alito drew a possible parallel with Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian institution that lost its nonprofit, tax-exempt status in 1983 as a result of its policy banning interracial marriage and dating.
If the court ruled in favor of gay marriage, “would the same apply to a university or college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” Alito had asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who was arguing on behalf of the government in favor of gay marriage. “It is going to be an issue,” Verrilli answered.
Virtually everyone agrees that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution offers some protections for religious groups. For example, most (even among gay rights advocates) believe the Constitution protects clergy from being required to officiate at marriages for same-sex couples and churches from being forced to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in their sanctuaries.
But what about a church basement or retreat center, which is rented out for opposite-sex weddings? And what about a religiously affiliated institution, like a university, that offers married heterosexual students housing but refuses such accommodation for married gay and lesbian students?
These questions have real-world implications, since virtually all American religious groups have affiliated nonprofits (such as schools, hospitals and charities). And many, including some evangelical Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church, the Mormon church and Orthodox Jewish groups, oppose gay marriage on religious grounds.
Some scholars believe that the ruling in favor of gay marriage will not lead to widespread acrimony and legal battles. They note, for example, that there is no federal law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. And, of the 22 states that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a majority (13) have at least some protections for religious groups written into their anti-discrimination statutes.
“There’s a big difference between something that could be an issue and something that’s likely to be an issue,” says Robert Tuttle, who teaches religion and law at George Washington University. Tuttle says he believes there may be some lawsuits, but he predicts that in more cases than not, accommodation and compromise are likely to win out. “After all, we still allow institutions, like universities, to discriminate based on gender,” he says.
But University of Illinois law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson says it’s possible that institutions will be pressured to give ground on gay marriage by federal authorities (such as the Internal Revenue Service, which could take away an institution’s tax-exempt status), state civil rights commissions or private lawsuits. She notes, for example, that the federal government now reads its laws against sex discrimination “to include sexual orientation discrimination, which opens a whole layer of potential threat” to religious organizations.
And yet she also says it is possible that all sides will “be able to live in peace,” noting a recent compromise in Utah, “where you saw an extension of gay rights in exchange for religious protections.”
Note: This is an update of a post published on June 25, 2015.
Related: Timeline: Same-sex marriage, state by state
Gay marriage around the world
5 facts about same-sex marriage
Topics: Religion and Government, Supreme Court, Religion and U.S. Politics, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality
David Masci is a senior writer/editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.
Writing for college papers requires that you have research skills and the ability to write well. When coming up with college paper ideas, keep in mind that this covers admissions essays, research papers, persuasive essays and more.
College paper examples include both short essays, like narrative, persuasive and analytical, as well as longer form essays , which include full reports and stories with more background.
When writing a college paper outline, the first step is to identify the type of essay you need to write. You should begin with a list of good college paper topics and choose one. Then you can begin to work on what type of essay it should be.
Writing college papers is fairly simple if you stick to the 5 paragraph essay. This type of college paper format requires a very basic layout. Begin with an introduction, add three supporting paragraphs and then a conclusion. It’s the best way to write a solid college paper without stress.
How to Start College Papers?
Begin with an introduction. This is the first paragraph of the essay and will need to include the basics of your topic. You should also include a thesis sentence, which will set the tone for the rest of the paper.
Next comes the body. In the college paper format we looked at earlier, the 5 paragraph essay, the body will be just three paragraphs long. Every paragraph will have a main point, which relates back to the thesis statement in the introduction. As long as everything supports that original claim, you have the makings of an excellent paper.
Each paragraph should transition smoothly into the next, making it easy for the reader to follow along with your points. Ideally, even someone who has little knowledge of the topic will be able to read and learn.
Finally, you’ll write a single paragraph conclusion to sum up the entire essay. This section of the college paper format is fairly simple, since you are just summarizing the rest of the paper. Once you’ve completed this, you’ll want to go back over everything else and make sure you don’t have any mistakes.
The final proof is the simplest way to turn out a good product. Remember, you want to impress your teachers with your writing college papers.