05/20/2009 - With New Hampshire poised to become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, could religious individuals and institutions that oppose gay marriage be required to recognize or even solemnize these unions? Although churches and other religious organizations, including charities and schools, have typically been exempt from state and local laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, it remains unclear how these religious institutions might be affected by new laws that require equal treatment for same-sex marriages. Indeed, such concerns prompted New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) to say he would sign legislation legalizing gay marriage in that state only if lawmakers add provisions giving religious organizations the right not to recognize such marriages. Another possible flash point involves private individuals and businesses that, for religious reasons, do not want to provide wedding-related or other services to same-sex couples.
The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life turns to professors Robert W. Tuttle and Ira "Chip" Lupu of The George Washington University Law School to discuss how some states are trying to reconcile these and other potential conflicts between the legalization of gay marriage and the free exercise of religion.
Ira “Chip” Lupu, F. Elwood and Eleanor Davis Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School
Robert W. Tuttle, David R. and Sherry Kirschner Berz Research Professor of Law and Religion, The George Washington University Law School
David Masci, Senior Research Fellow, Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life
Read the full Question and Answer A Clash of Rights? Gay Marriage and the Free Exercise of Religion on the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.