Odious Discrimination and the Religious Exemption Question
24 Pages Posted: 10 May 2011
Date Written: May 6, 2011
Recently, claims have been asserted that religious exemptions should be afforded to individuals who object to providing public and commercial services to gay and lesbian individuals, as otherwise mandated by law (e.g., municipal clerks who must grant same-sex marriage licenses, or commercial vendors who are asked to serve at same-sex weddings). This article argues that just as religious exemptions of this sort are not granted for discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or gender, they should not be granted for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. Discrimination on the basis of an individual's identity, biology, or other immutable characteristics has been labeled odious by our laws, whether motivated by religious beliefs or not. There is no reason why odious discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status should be singled out for exemptions that no other civil rights permit.
Keywords: Religion, religious exemption, same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian, discrimination on basis of sexual orientation, discrimination on basis of transgender
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