Is a person who declines to lend their creative talents to support or promote a same-sex union hateful?
Is tolerance a two-way street?
Are religious beliefs just an excuse to discriminate?
Where do one person's rights end and the other person's begin?
These questions, and others like them, are the ones facing our nation following the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. The ruling requires all states to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.
Alliance Defending Freedom CEO Alan Sears sat down with VICE correspondent Gianna Toboni to answer some of the important questions about how we as a nation can respect each other's differences, even amidst intense disagreement on the topic of marriage. The episode will air tonight on HBO at 11 PM MST, but here's a quick preview of what you can expect:
Post-Obergefell, Christian florists, bakers, and photographers who believe that marriage is a life-long union between one man and one woman are left wondering what legal rights they have amidst intense rhetoric that calls their timeless religious beliefs hateful and discriminatory. That's where religious freedom principles, guaranteed by our nation’s constitutions and laws, including laws like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRAs for short, must be considered.
"We need people to learn to accept one another, to love one another, and part of that is not to force people to violate their deepest and most core beliefs." – Alan Sears
Despite what some people would have you believe, RFRAs are designed to prevent discrimination, not encourage it. In situations where a law forces someone to take an action that conflicts with his faith, RFRAs provide courts with a legal test for balancing the government’s interest in its asserted goals (in this case, the recognition of same-sex marriage) against a religious person's right not to violate his conscience (which says that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman).
Unfortunately, much of the misinformation about RFRAs is being promoted by advocates of same-sex marriage, who oppose the bills based on their potential to shield religious business owners from legal demands that they support or otherwise participate in same-sex marriages. Needless to say, this has created tension surrounding the issues of marriage and religious freedom.
We must be able to have these hard conversations and to dialogue about our differences. This VICE episode is a step in the right direction. The response to Alan's perspective will be telling on whether we as a nation can be truly tolerant, or whether we will continue down our current path toward becoming a country where the government can override a person’s deepest convictions about a fundamental religious issue like marriage.