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5 Nw. J. L. & Soc. Pol'y 260 (2010)
Why Accommodate? Reflections on the Gay Marriage Culture Wars

handle is hein.journals/nwjlsopo5 and id is 261 raw text is: Copyright 2010 by Northwestern University School of Law               Volume 5 (Fall 2010)
Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy
Why Accommodate?
Reflections on the Gay Marriage Culture Wars
Maggie Gallagher*
If gay marriage is a constitutional right, a moral good, a basic norm of
democratic equality, then why accommodate opposing views?
Why should anyone who believes in gay marriage also support conscience
protections for individuals or organizations opposed to gay marriage?
The questions posed above are foundational; the answers to each dictate (in
practice) the policy options one is willing to consider in regard to gay marriage,
particularly in terms of accommodations. Technical difficulties of legal drafting aside,
the reasons underlying one's willingness to consider religious accommodations in the
area of gay marriage will dictate the breadth and kind of religious liberty legislation we
will be willing to consider. Carefully exploring the core question-Why
accommodate?-will enable us to conceptualize why accommodation on this issue is so
difficult, and, particularly, why it is so conceptually difficult for gay marriage advocates
to tolerate the idea of substantial religious accommodations.
This Article proposes four potential reasons why citizens, legislators, and/or judges
who endorse gay marriage should consider accommodating the views of traditional faith
communities: practical, civic, moral sympathy, and principle. I argue (perhaps counter-
intuitively) that the most urgent need, if we are to reduce the conflict between gay rights
and religious liberty, is not merely to argue from principle alone, but also to develop
respect for the other reasons for accommodation: practical, civic, and moral sympathy.
Below is a typology of four reasons why gay marriage advocates should support
religious liberty accommodations for those opposed to gay marriage.
A. Practical
This is the simplest reason for accommodation to secure political support for gay
marriage. To enact gay marriage laws, proponents of gay marriage believe they have to
allay concerns of voters they disagree with by providing religious liberty
accommodations. The narrowness of religious liberty exemptions typically offered by
gay marriage advocates strongly suggests that, at present, allaying voter concerns, not
* Chairman of the Board, National Organization for Marriage and President, Institute for Marriage and
Public Policy.

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