The recent fight over Proposition 8 in California, a measure which outlawed same-sex marriage, was a conscious effort to protect religious rights. Most of the practical measures that a homosexual couple require, such as the ability to make health decisions for their partner, are already provided for in a civil union (see "Civil Unions Provide 90% of the Loaf. Take It"). As soon as homosexual marriage is recognized as a human "right", then any discrimination based on lifestyle would be a civil rights violation.
Take Boston, for example. There Catholic Charities was forced to begin providing adoptions to same-sex couples; under Cardinal O'Malley's direction the facility closed. It was not even an issue of taking federal money: the agency could no longer make a judgment on the suitability of the parents according to historical Christian and natural law criteria. Other cases show the same trend: Methodists in New Jersey were refused a tax exemption because they wouldn't perform civil unions, and in Iowa the YMCA was forced not only to recognize same-sex couples for purposes of membership but to change their charter to redefine families (Severino).
As quoted in "Banned in Boston", Maggie Gallagher posed the question of a trend toward infringement on conscience to a prominent religious rights attorney:
I PUT THE QUESTION to Anthony Picarello, president and general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Becket Fund is widely recognized as one of the best religious liberty law firms and the only one that defends the religious liberty of all faith groups, "from Anglicans to Zoroastrians," as its founder Kevin J.
Hasson likes to say (referring to actual clients the Becket Fund has defended).
Just how serious are the coming conflicts over religious liberty stemming from gay marriage?
"The impact will be severe and pervasive," Picarello says flatly. "This is going to affect every aspect of church-state relations." Recent years, he predicts, will be looked back on as a time of relative peace between church and state, one where people had the luxury of litigating cases about things like the Ten Commandments in courthouses. In times of relative peace, says Picarello, people don't even notice that "the church is surrounded on all sides by the state; that church and state butt up against each other. The boundaries are usually peaceful, so it's easy sometimes to forget they are there. But because marriage affects just about every area of the law, gay marriage is going to create a point of conflict at every point around the perimeter."