A Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Rights Is a Victory for Pluralism



In its Thursday decision letting a Catholic agency decline to place foster children with same-sex couples, the Supreme Court analyzed the First Amendment, state law and judicial precedents. But what prevailed in the end are the words emblazoned on the Great Seal of the United States: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

America is a land of rights. The constitution explicitly enshrines several, and it has been interpreted to protect more. Federal and state statutes recognize others. Our reverence for rights stems from a respect for individual autonomy.

It affirms that each person has a sphere in which to act without permission from anyone.

But this nation is also a kaleidoscope of differences — in race, religion, culture, ideology and more. Uniformity is not part of our national makeup. We prize our shared values — well, most of us do — but we cherish the attributes that not all of us share.

The result of these parallel traditions is that your right to do as you please sometimes conflicts with your neighbors’ right to do as they please. The only way to manage those conflicts is to preserve a space where both sides get much of what they want but neither gets all they want.

In this case, the city of Philadelphia elected to stop referring children to Catholic Social Services because it won’t certify same-sex couples as foster parents. Taking the view that “marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman,” CSS’s policy does not allow it to place kids with unmarried couples or married same-sex couples — though it has never actually refused, because no such couple has ever applied.

If one were to do so, the organization attested, it would refer them to one of the dozens of adoption agencies in Philadelphia that don’t exclude same-sex couples. CSS has no objection to placing kids with single foster adults, gay or straight.

The city argued that its policy on same-sex couples amounts to discrimination, in violation of a city ordinance. In its view, allowing CSS to refuse them “would do a disservice to children in the foster system, unnecessarily limit the pool of available parents, and send a very strong signal to (the LGBTQ) community that (its) rights are not protected.”

But the real disservice to children would come about if CSS were excluded from the foster care system for adhering to its religious beliefs. Those beliefs, keep in mind, are the motive behind its undisputed devotion to helping these children. The pool of available parents is not affected by the CSS policy, because same-sex couples can and do register with other agencies.

The needs of the children argue in favor of keeping such religious groups in the system, as Cato Institute legal scholar Walter Olson told a House committee last year, in reference to the issue at the center of this case.

"It would be a humanitarian calamity to lose conservative religious agencies, many of which also have long track records of success," he said. "If conservative religious agencies are driven out, which children will wait longer for a family, or age out of the system without finding one? Can we in good conscience dismiss their interests as collateral damage in the pursuit of the anti-discrimination principle?"

It's often assumed that when two sides claim conflicting rights, any solution must come at the expense of one or the other. But this conflict is a matter more of symbolism than of substance. The signal to gays from letting CSS follow its conscience is not that their rights are unprotected but that their rights are not unlimited -- and that the freedom of religious believers also warrants protection, within reason.

Pluralism is vital in a free, diverse and democratic society. In some instances, it requires that groups with opposing beliefs and practices must live with less than their ideal outcome. Religious groups may not deny gays the right to marry and raise children -- but gay couples may not force religious people to give up the obligations of faith to participate in public programs.

It may be easy to achieve harmony in a society where everyone thinks and behaves the same way. The essential value of pluralism is to let people live together despite fundamental differences. For competing groups to insist that their rights must prevail in every context, no matter what, is to stoke fierce, relentless conflict. Pluralism is a recipe for peace.

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23 thoughts on “A Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Rights Is a Victory for Pluralism”

  1. Finally, not kow towing to the 3%,. They have other avenues that is why if
    a business, for religious reasons doesn’t want to make a cake or cater a
    same-sex marriage, they have other businesses they can go to. Don’t shove
    your life style down others throats.

  2. The above article makes sense to me. I am not a Republican but I look at everything — I disdain the word “side”–to get what’s really going on … and even then sometimes left in doubt a the short-sidedness of political views. BUT did not the Bible say in so many words “God created the world and all that’s in it ….and he was satisfied” ?? I have to believe Gays were created for reasons …. think; over population and children needing parents. Could be a reason? Gays have been around since recorded history. I’m not gay but I have gay friends, who are just grest people.
    This resonates for me: “The result of these parallel traditions is that your right to do as you please sometimes conflicts with your neighbors’ right to do as they please. The only way to manage those conflicts is to preserve a space where both sides get much of what they want but neither gets all they want.”

    AND, “The essential value of pluralism is to let people live together despite fundamental differences.” That’s what
    Democracy was created for!! Our founding fathers knew how to put this in words; they were true statesmen.

    1. You may not think you are a Republican, but your words clearly show you are NOT a Democrat!

    2. That is very true. Everyone should learn to live in this world together. I am a born again Christian. I also have a couple of gay friends. I love them with ALL my heart. They do NOT show their affection for each other in public. They believe that part of their relationship should be in the privacy of their own home. In GOD’S eyes they know it’s wrong. They don’t mind telling anyone that. And as a Christian; I know GOD makes NO mistakes. People are not born homosexual. We ALL have choices. And I also hope the baker that almost lost EVERYTHING from not making the cake some years ago; does not have to go through the same thing this time. Yes. Another homosexual couple is doing the same thing to him once again. So the Supreme Court needs to go ahead & STOP all that right now.

    3. You keep your fag friends to yourself. This country does not need anymore perverted people in it to tell everybody else how to run their lives or corrupt our normal children.

  3. People have no rite to force others to have to deal with there mentally demented choice of life. The same as others don’t have the rite to force you not to be queer. Your decision is yours and if there are negative connotations and reactions to your choice they are your problem because you made them.

  4. Yes In jesus Name we need to stick up for the Conservative adoption agancies that see living homosexual lifestyle and passion it onto the kids they adopt as very very Harmful and need these agencies to keep on going and keep on standing for righteousness in regards to family Marriage between one woman and one man!!!

  5. God created man and out of man’s side, He created woman. Enough said. The way we have screwed up the DNA of humankind, that’s how we got the Alphabet people, and now those idiots who “THINK” they want to be something else, think they are????? The only way it works is God’s way and if we don’t allow God back in this country we won’t even be a footnote in history. The Quad-D’s (damned, deranged demonic democrats) are getting by with destroying what God created.

    Remember one thing is for sure. We ALL will stand before God one day and will either hear (well done, my good and faithful servant” OR “You will be well done in hell.”

  6. Rights without responsibilities are not rights. They are wrongs. Do LIARS have the right to LIE? Do THIEVES have a right to STEAL? Go RAPIST have the right to RAPE? Giving the LGBT MENAGERIE equal rights is SOVEREIGN SUICIDE on steroids. LYING is NEVER sacred. LYING is always SUICIDAL.

  7. The Peter puffer person carpet munchers can always move to Iran North Korea China or Venezuela that they do not like the way the United States treats in their freak Confused genders

  8. I applaud SCOTUS for their wisdom, sense of reason and fair play and for the sake of the children.

    I believe I understand their basic reasoning and agree with it.

    I do, however, worry and wonder how this one would have turned out were it not for the convenient caveat that this is not the only option. There are many other facilities and servicers available.

    If the CSS were the only option would the Justices have decided otherwise? Is it really the sacred right of the religious belief or would that have been sacrificed to appease one ideology at the absolute expense of the other>

    I would have preferred it they just left it at the religious rights of the CSS. I do not see any caveat in the First Amendment that suggests the right of free exercise of religion can actually be abridged if there is no alternative.

    How would that work for the right to life in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments? Is capital punishment an exception, a huge caveat? Is abortion on demand an exception, another huge caveat.

    I fear the force of the precedent this one sets. But for the options the decision would be different.

  9. MalcolmX“The white liberal is the worst enemy to America, and the worst enemy to the black man. The worst enemy that the Negro have is this white man that runs around here drooling at the mouth professing to love Negros, and calling himself a liberal, and it is following these white liberals that has perpetuated problems that Negros have. I cite these things to show you that in America the history of the white liberal has been nothing but a series of trickery designed to make Negros think that the white liberal was going to help the black man!

  10. People on here who confess they are born again Christians need to read the KJV of my bible where gays are living lifestyle not condoned by GOD..The SCOTUS is very wrong on their rulings…Christians should not embrace gays lifestyles,but, instead pray and WARN them of what would happen to them at the End of Times (judgement day) if they continue their abnormal lifestyle….GOD plainly stated that ” Men who lay with Men and Women who lay with Women ” are an ABOMINATION to HIM and that is about as plain as can be said…GOD destroyed the cities of SODOM and GOMORRAH completely due to the NOT NORMAL lifestyles of the people of these cities…Be very careful about your beliefs and how you conduct you lives, because one day everyone will have to Stand before GOD and have to answer and be judged about your Christian works and your Behavior and lifestyles…

    1. I am a Christian, a white male capitalist Republican and was once a deacon in my church. In spite of these dreadful qualifications I do have a contrary view related to my religious beliefs and proselytizing. Curtis has his right to say, to believe and to conduct his personal life as he sees fit.

      But. it would behoove him to remember everything he and King James say and believe to the depths of their hearts and minds is based on the central most important aspect of the religion we share. That is faith.

      We have no more authority or license to act on these beliefs than does a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Shintoist or any other religious person who carries the same burden of bearing witness to their faith.

  11. I applaud the Supreme Courts decision, because it is time that our Religious Rights start being upheld. I do not hate or disrespect Gay People BUT I do not want them to hate or disrespect my Religious beliefs. I believe in GOD who gave of his SON, Jesus Christ, so that we have the opportunity for live ever after! But I also believe in HIS WORD in the BIBLE and the doctrine of my Church which believes that Marriage is the union of a Man and Woman!

    My point is do not try to change or make my beliefs criminal and live your life with the Guarantee God offers us all and that is Free Will! I may consider your life style a sin and you do not consider it a sin, that is the beauty of Freedom! I will not force my belief upon you but DO NOT FORCE YOUR BELIEFS UPON ME!


    1. That is the biggest blackest lie in this whole political snafu. Gays are NOT just wired that way. I lived in a gay neighborhood for years and got to know some of them quite well. The ones who screamed loudest about how they were wired that way, confided in me that they had been homosexually MOLESTED as children. In other words, they LEARNED to be gay under the careful tutelage of sexual predators. So no, they are not born that way, it isn’t in the genes, it isn’t inherited or passed down. Sexual molestation and/or education of other people’s children is the only way gays beget more gays.

  13. An abomination wanting to raise a child and teaching that child unorthodox ways,is an abomination. It is cruel and dispicable.Sick and atrocious. You will burn in hell to do a disgraceful act like that.

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