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Religious Freedom and Gay RightsEmerging Conflicts in the United States and Europe$
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Timothy Shah, Thomas Farr, and Jack Friedman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190600600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190600600.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 25 January 2022

Die and Let Live? The Asymmetry of Accommodation

Die and Let Live? The Asymmetry of Accommodation

(p.181) 7 Die and Let Live? The Asymmetry of Accommodation
Religious Freedom and Gay Rights

Steven D. Smith

Oxford University Press

This chapter critiques the “accommodationist” approach to gay rights and religious freedom advocated by Robin Fretwell Wilson and others. The approach, it argues, relies on two mistaken assumptions of symmetry. First, “prescriptive symmetry” assumes negotiated outcomes will be symmetrical in their fairness and balance to those who advocate for gay rights (particularly same-sex marriage) on one side, and those who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, on the other side. It is argued, however, that accommodationists’ proposed compromises nevertheless privilege same-sex marriage supporters by inscribing their view of marriage as the official position of the state. Second, “critical symmetry” assumes that because both sides are equally intransigent and eager to oppress the other, both sides will respond with proportionate and equally justified vigor. In reality, however, religious objectors face the graver dilemma of having to choose between violating their conscience or relegation to the margins of society.

Keywords:   religious liberty, same-sex marriage, religious conservatives, secular egalitarians, equality, discrimination, accommodation, law, toleration, Christians

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