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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: September 2016

Preface

Summary

I wrote this book because I can no longer sit back and watch as outspoken opponents of religious freedom characterize any attempt to protect it as discrimination, and as opponents of sexual freedom characterize same-sex marriage as somehow eroding the fabric of America. Moderate voices are often drowned out by more radical ones on each side, and the media seems to prefer the radical voices. This makes sense since radical voices often make for a “sexier” headline or news story than do the nuanced positions of moderates. Yet, as a deeply religious person who strongly supports LGBT rights and reproductive freedom, I know I am not alone in supporting freedom on both fronts.

Two problems often arise in public discourse on religious freedom, LGBT rights, and reproductive freedom. First is a lack of balance – not just in media reports but also in debates I often overhear in stores or restaurants. It seems that few people consider the possibility that we can have strong religious freedom laws and strong protection for both LGBT and reproductive rights. It is not that no voices are out there advocating for this but rather that those voices are not being heard as well as the voices of those screaming on one side or the other.

Second, few people besides law school professors and some in the broader legal community truly understand the law governing religious freedom, LGBT rights, and reproductive rights. And why should they? This law is highly complex, and those of us involved in the legal debates often use quite a bit of legalese as shorthand when we discuss these issues. This makes our discussions more understandable within the legal community, but it can mystify the law for laypeople who could easily understand it if they did not have to sort through the meaning of the vast array of terminology lawyers and courts use. If people do not understand the law, it is hard for them to gain a well-informed position on these issues because the issues are heavily connected to the law.