On Wednesday, along with some of my Americans United colleagues, I attended a LGBTQ summit hosted by Atlantic magazine’s Atlantic Live. The summit’s title, “Unfinished Business,” betrayed the organizers’ expectations of who would be our next president. What could have been a reflection on progress was instead a reminder of how much is now at stake and how much remains to be done.
By Kelly Percival
Thirty-eight states protect religious liberty in their constitutions by prohibiting taxpayer money from being used to fund religion or religious institutions. These “no-aid clauses” safeguard the integrity of houses of worship by ensuring that they do not become beholden to state interests. Next week, however, Oklahoma voters will face State Question 790, a dangerous ballot measure that, if passed, would repeal Oklahoma’s no-aid-to-religion clause and erode the separation of church and state there.
Tuesday’s marriage arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court hinted at coming battles over the right of religious business owners or organizations to discriminate against gays and lesbians in contexts outside of marriage itself. Indeed, several briefs to the high court—and a few justices at oral argument—suggested that if same-sex people have a constitutional right to get married, it will be more difficult for individuals and businesses to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex people in other settings.
The Supreme Court heard arguments today about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bars the federal government from recognizing the civil marriages of same-sex couples.
From all reports, things are looking pretty good. At least five justices seemed skeptical of DOMA’s constitutionality, including frequent swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy.
In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a famous decision in a school prayer case called Abington School District v. Schempp. The justices, with only one dissenter, ruled school-sponsored and coercive programs of prayer and Bible reading in public schools unconstitutional.
That same year for some reason, students at a high school in Cranston, R.I., decided to create an 8-foot-tall banner containing an official school prayer and hang it in the school auditorium.
OK, people, listen up: “Jersey Shore” party girl Snooki Polizzi is not a good role model for American young people, Barack Obama is not a Muslim and the Christian cross is not a secular symbol or a highway safety sign.
The first two assertions are too obviously true to need discussion. You’d have to be pretty darn clueless not to come to those conclusions.