Conservative Activists Argue Gay Marriage Threatens Religious Liberty

Some are encouraging legislation to give gay couples rights, but allow religious exemptions.

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The legal battles between religious conservatives and married gay couples are so new that it's hard to tell who will win in which states. But some legal scholars are encouraging the two sides to sit down and hash out laws that grant gay couples real rights but carve out significant exemptions for religious groups and socially conservative business owners. "There will be some hard cases, but there are relatively simple solutions here," Laycock says.

But gay rights advocates oppose exemptions for religious organizations and individuals that go further than letting them opt out of gay marriage ceremonies. "Denying equality in a public service based on a person's religious convictions about same-sex marriage would set a dangerous precedent," Moulton says. "What if I have a religious conviction against allowing women to work for my business or against allowing people of other religions from coming into my store?"

Religious conservatives, meanwhile, are reluctant to work with gay rights groups in crafting such legislation, because they oppose it. "I still believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman," Gallagher says. As more states legalize gay marriage, then, both sides are likely to see each other in court.