Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rights In Conflict: Religious Freedom and Gay Rights

 With the recent repeal in the Senate of DADT, the freedom of religion of chaplains and soldiers has become an extreme concern by the Religious Right. In fact, just today, OneNewsNow has an article citing the Alliance Defense Fund of the danger of this repeal and its implications on religious liberty. They state,

The conservative legal group, Alliance Defense Fund, issued a statement after the vote saying "The Senate's cave-in to pressure from activists to impose homosexual behavior on our military will place our troops' religious liberties in unprecedented jeopardy. Indeed, the first official casualty of this hurried vote may well be the religious freedom of chaplains and Service members."  ADF Litigation Counsel, Daniel Blomberg, went on to say " no Americans, and especially not our troops, should be forced to abandon their religious beliefs."

The ADF says it stands ready to defend Service members if they are ever unconstitutionally required to choose between "serving their country or obeying their God as a result of this damaging policy decision."
    Why are these groups flipping out? I propose that there is so much concern about this "religious liberty" issue because LGBT issues are becoming just as important in American society as Christianity. You see, for centuries, Christianity and the "religious freedom" that goes along with it, has been the primary concern in America. Now that they are losing this "special status" in favor of a more equitable treatment of everyone, they are complaining that their liberties are under threat.

    In a nutshell, yes their "special liberties" are under threat. When one persons right to be him or herself is just as important as an expression of religion, then there has to be a balance between these two interests, instead of a free pass for one of them. With the repeal of DADT, and the eventual ability for gay and lesbian soldiers to be open about who they are, Conservative Christians will be required to moderate there tone.

    This my friends, is why the Religious Right is so upset. Instead of being allowed to say anything that they want about gay and lesbian people, they now have to be private about their prejudice.  Now that the military is removing institutionalized discrimination about who an individual is, those who choose to hold certain beliefs cannot assert those beliefs without consequences. For the Religious Right this is unacceptable, for in this they see that their power is lessening. The same thing happened with women and African-Americans. Religious personal beliefs about these groups' inferiority (beliefs which do persist to this day) had to go into the "closet" of private life, instead of being able to be broadcast publicly through institutionalized laws.

       Overall, there is a difference between holding a belief and being able to manifest said belief; something that I think the American people have been coming around and realizing. We all have the right to have a belief (even if I may disagree with the ADF's beliefs on gay people, I will defend their rights to have it), but when those beliefs conflict with individuals rights then beliefs must be tempered. This is why I don't give these groups that much power, for their beliefs are slowly moving back into the private sphere - where they should be.

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