Neil Foster is an Associate Professor at Newcastle Law School (Australia). His blog, Law and Religion Australia, treats Law and Religion issues not only in Australia and other Commonwealth nations, but in the United States and elsewhere.
Recognition of “same-sex marriage” has been proceeding apace in Western societies for the last few decades. Adoption of same-sex marriage, however, raises religious freedom issues. It does so because the move effectively amounts to a change in a nation’s public morality and takes a stance on the issue as to what kind of sexual activity is legitimate, which is in sharp opposition to the views taken by mainstream religions for many years. Representatives of those religions have long been involved in solemnizing marriages; questions now arise as to whether they will be required to solemnize same-sex unions. Similar issues arise for believers involved as small businesses in related “wedding industries.” At a broader level, the change means that many religious groups are now opposed to the wider societal consensus on the question of sexual morality, and questions are raised as to whether they will still be able to play a role in the public life of the community.