I know there’s a lot of folks right now saying there’s no worries at all about religious liberty concerning the Court’s radical marriage ruling.
Now, before the ruling, even the New York Times reported that there would be some issues.
In a recent letter to congressional leaders, officials from more than 70 schools, including Catholic high schools and evangelical colleges, said that a Supreme Court ruling approving same-sex marriage would put at risk all schools “adhering to traditional religious and moral values.”
Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. In a 1983 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial relationships. Today, over 70 religious schools are concerned that they may be penalized similarly for opposing same-sex relationships. Credit Chris Keane for The New York Times
“I am concerned, and I think I’d be remiss, if not naïve, to be otherwise,” said Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, in Bartlesville. “This is not alarmist thinking. This is rational listening.”
The spreading anxiety among conservatives — including Senator Rand Paul, who mentioned the issue in an interview on “The Daily Show” last month — hints at the potential effect of a Supreme Court decision backing the right to same-sex marriage, especially for religious institutions that forbid sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage. It also highlights the political battles likely to follow.
Married housing is one concern identified in the letter. Dating policies prohibiting same-sex contact are another, along with questions about whether religious institutions would have to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.
Legal scholars said the scenario of schools’ and charities’ losing their tax-exempt status over their policies on these issues was unlikely — especially in the short term. But they did not rule it out, based on previous civil rights cases and an exchange during Supreme Court arguments in April on whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.
“In the Bob Jones case,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said, referring to the 1983 Supreme Court decision, “the court held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?”
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., representing the Obama administration, said that was possible. “I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics,” he said, “but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked a similar question. “Would a religious school that has married housing be required to afford such housing to same-sex couples?”
Mr. Verrilli did not rule that out either but said it would “depend on how states work out the balance between their civil rights laws.”
So churches losing their tax exempt status and Catholic colleges being forced to provide housing is kind of a big deal, don’t you think?