If the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage, its effect on religious freedom will depend upon how the opinion is written, according to experts.
The best possible outcome for religious freedom would be for the court to rule that the U.S. Constitution does not require all states to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. If the court does require all states to redefine marriage, however, there are a range of options that could affect religious freedom differently.
If the court were to “elevate sexual orientation to a protected category similar to race,” Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Christian Post that could have a detrimental impact on the religious freedom of groups and people who do not believe that same-sex marriage is actually marriage.
Equally troubling for religious freedom, he added, would be for the court to say that opposition to same-sex marriage is motivated by animus, as Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested in two prior decisions. Kennedy is expected to write the opinion in this month’s gay marriage case.
In Romer v. Evans, which struck down a Colorado amendment prohibiting special legal status based upon sexual orientation, Kennedy wrote that the amendment was “inexplicable by anything except animus.”
And in one of last year’s gay marriage decisions, United States v. Windsor, Kennedy wrote that a law prohibiting federal recognition of gay marriage, the Defense of Marriage Act, placed a “stigma” upon same-sex couples and was motivated by “improper animus” and a “desire to harm a politically unpopular group.”