Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Prof. Douglas Laycock on the future of gay rights and religious liberties

The Emory Center for the Study of Law and Religion recently posted complete transcripts of the talks delivered at its 25th anniversary conference, From Silver to Gold: The Next 25 Years of Law and Religion, held in October, 2007.

Here is an excerpt from Prof. Douglas Laycock's talk on The Future of Religious Liberty, A Conscripted Prophet’s Guesses About the Future of Religious Liberty in America. Prof. Laycock is Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan. Here is his glimpse of the shape of things to come:

It was the gay rights movement that rallied the broader civil rights movement to kill the proposed Religious Liberty Protection Act. That was a case where the evangelicals were willing to put much more on the bargaining table, surrender much more than the gay rights side was. The evangelicals still lost. Gay rights said we want an absolute exception or we’ll kill the bill, and they killed the bill.

So there will be gay rights laws with absurdly narrow religious exemptions, perhaps eventually with no religious exemptions at all, and there will be conservative believers who impose [sic] enactment of those laws, who resist compliance, who seek exemptions. As the gay rights movement continues to make progress, we are likely to see more and more serious religious liberty issues arising out of its success.