Stone: Of Contraceptives and Same-Sex Marriage
This was an interesting week for religion in America. First, the Council of Catholic Bishops demanded that the President of the United States exempt Catholic hospitals and universities from a general requirement that all employers receiving federal funds must provide health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraceptives. On reflection, the President acceded to their demand, explaining that such institutions should not be required to do something that is fundamentally incompatible with their religious beliefs.
While all this was going on, a federal Court of Appeals ruled that California's Proposition 8, which attempted to strip gays and lesbians of the previously recognized state law right to marry, violated the federal Constitution. The court explained that Proposition 8, which had been aggressively promoted by the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church and Evangelicals, was unconstitutional because it served "no purpose . . . other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California."
The juxtaposition of these two events sheds important light on the relationship between religion and government in the United States today.