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After stating that Obergefell relates only to a situation in which no harm occurs to others, Kennedy explicitly addressed religious organizations.He said that the First Amendment ensures that they are given “proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.” What did Justice Kennedy mean?
Though the decision was cause for rejoicing among many, myself included, it has raised concerns for faith-based colleges and universities that define themselves according to worldviews that reject homosexuality.
After reading Obergefell I think the concerns of these colleges are unjustified for a number of reasons.
The Obergefell majority specifically said that it was not willing to limit religious freedom.
Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, focused on the concern of religious institutions.
So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?
” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., arguing for same-sex marriage, responded that without more specifics he couldn’t be certain but that it would definitely “be an issue.” This exchange caused the chancellor of Patrick Henry College in Virginia to write in that churches and faith-based educational institutions would have to decide what was more important, their religious convictions or their tax exemption.Why do his words hold such significance, particularly since the dissent in Obergefell said religious institutions ought to be worried?The answer lies in the tests used in constitutional jurisprudence that highlight the relationship between the Bob Jones and Obergefell decisions. Stronks doesn't think the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage will create legal threats for Christian colleges.But she thinks it's time for many Christian colleges to change anyway. Hodges said that all states must recognize the fundamental right of marriage for both straight and gay and lesbian couples.For decades Bob Jones University denied admittance to black students, but by the early 1970s it changed that policy.It decided to admit black students but it kept its policy that said students would be expelled if they engaged in interracial dating.He said religious schools and colleges should get prepared for the fallout of a decision in favor of same-sex marriage because the “bullying” would be immediate.The concern that Justice Alito expressed emerges from a 1983 Supreme Court case, Bob Jones v. S., involving a conservative Christian university that discriminated on the basis of race.When the university brought a lawsuit against the IRS, the Supreme Court affirmed that proper interpretation of the IRS statute meant institutions seeking tax-exempt status must serve a “public purpose and not be contrary to established public policy.” Racial discrimination did not serve a public purpose; furthermore, it violated public policy.Today, some faith-based institutions worry that an interpretation of their scriptures forbidding homosexuality will be found to be a violation of public policy just like racism. For reasons embedded in the cases themselves, the answer is no.