The California Supreme Court — fresh from their ruling striking down California's gay marriage ban — heard argument yesterday on whether the state could enforce its anti-discrimination laws to punish a doctor who didn't want to provide infertility services to a lesbian couple. The court sounded inclined to rule that the doctor's religious objections did not spare him from anti-discrimination laws.
Professor Bainbridge has a fascinating analysis of why the court may be right if they reach that conclusion, and why that might not represent the first step on a slippery slope to government coercion of religious acceptance of homosexuality. He draws a distinction between core religious practices (I'd guess performing a marriage ceremony would be an example) and religious sensibilities (for instance, a religious pharmacist's distaste at dispensing birth control). It's an interesting analysis and well worth reading. I find Bainbridge's distinction between core religious activities and religious sensibility to be satisfying and useful. Clearly the state has no business telling religions how to conduct sacramental activities. But it seems equally clear to me that allowing anyone to evade facially neutral laws (such as antidiscrimination laws) by saying "that's against my religion" is an open-ended invitation to anarchy.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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