Gill examines same-sex marriage and religious freedom

March 11, 2014

By Anna Huffman '17

Dr. Emily Gill, Caterpillar Professor of Political Science and author of An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage: Religious Freedom, Sexual Freedom, and Public Expressions of Civic Equality, was the featured speaker at the third Liberal Arts and Sciences Lecture Series, “Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom.”

The Liberal Arts and Sciences lectures aim to foster intellectual interaction among members of the faculty, students, and community members, while engaging in stimulating, academic conversation. Gill analyzed the discrimination homosexual marriages experience because of religious values and the controversy surrounding religious freedom against sexual orientation.

“Sexuality and religious freedom are both forms of personal liberty,” she said.  

She emphasized the underlying fault in discriminatory policies against same-sex marriage, saying government implementation of a policy advocating certain religious beliefs created outsiders and generated civic inequality.

“Free exercise of religion protects a person’s right of worship, not affecting other religious beliefs and practices,” Gill said of religious freedom.

She reiterated that persons utilize religious freedom as a discriminatory tool against homosexuals because they wish to compete, as Gill noted, “in the marketplace of ideas.” Such religious believers then pin their own values against groups not living similar spiritual lives.

“Such religious discrimination creates a paralysis for homosexual couples because one expression of sexuality is targeted as unworthy,” she said. “A caste system is created as religious believers denounce homosexual couples. The government instills policies against same-sex marriage, placing citizens in one type of rigid social structure. Same-sex marriage is banned because such unions upset gender categories that society has subconsciously constructed. ”

She argued a state outlawing same-sex marriage supports the religion decrying homosexuality, devastating the separation of church and state. Thus, the government would be a non-neutral institution, allowing religious entities to discriminate against others with contrasting beliefs.  Government would define marital form and decide which types of unions are appropriate, which Gill describes as “a double civic inequality.”  

“It is disheartening to observe people veil their discrimination through exercise of their religious freedoms,” she said. “It is a matter of time, but how much time will pass before we experience this civic equality, I am unsure. Perhaps it will not ensue in our lifetime, but marriage equality will emerge.”