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‘When Pigs Fly’, and Other Lies

The Law of Merited Impossibility strikes again

On the question of whether advancing gay rights would put religious liberty into retreat, ‘memba this?:

“This is yet another of the predicted horrible consequences of same-sex marriage that just isn’t going to happen,” said Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University.

“The Catholic Church refuses to recognize the remarriages of divorced people whose spouses are still living. Their tax exemption has never been threatened because of this.”

David Buckel, a lawyer at the gay-rights group Lambda Legal, said there is always tension when government mixes with religion, especially when religious groups “want government money at the same time they want religious liberty.”

Freedom of religion is “incredibly important,” he said, but it doesn’t trump other freedoms in every context. “If it did, folks who tried to justify racism based on religious beliefs would have gotten away with it,” he said, noting that religion was used to justify state bans on interracial marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court struck them down in 1967.

Buckel said the fear that religious groups would lose their tax benefits is unfounded. “Why wouldn’t that already have happened as sexual orientation was added to non-discrimination laws over the years?” asked Buckel, adding: “I think some of this is baloney. The sky is just not falling.”

… Asked whether the hypothetical religious college at the top of this article could lose its tax-exempt status for refusing to recognize John and James as married students, constitutional law scholar Cass Sunstein said: “Sure–and if pigs had wings they could fly.”

“The answer is no,” said Sunstein, a professor of law and political science at the University of Chicago. “That’s an argument that would be generated by advocacy groups trying to scare people. The likelihood religious organizations would lose their tax exemption is as close to zero as anything in law is.”

That comes from a Chicago Tribune article in … 2006. Meanwhile, last month at the Supreme Court:

Here is an exchange between Alito and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., arguing for the same-sex couples on behalf of the Obama administration.

Justice Alito: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax-­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­-sex marriage?

General Verrilli: You know, ­­I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is­­ it is going to be an issue.

If pigs had wings they could fly … as close to zero as anything in law is. So it’s not true after all. Oh well, when it happens, the bigots will deserve it anyway.



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