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The issue is adoption to same-sex couples." It was shocking news.
Picarello summarizes: "All the scholars we got together see a problem; they all see a conflict coming.
When religious-right leaders prophesy negative consequences from gay marriage, they are often seen as overwrought.
The First Amendment, we are told, will protect religious groups from persecution for their views about marriage. Is the fate of Catholic Charities of Boston an aberration or a sign of things to come?
But because marriage affects just about every area of the law, gay marriage is going to create a point of conflict at every point around the perimeter." For scholars, these will be interesting times: Want to know exactly where the borders of church and state are located? The flood of litigation surrounding each point of contact will map out the territory.
For religious liberty lawyers, there are boom times ahead.
In times of relative peace, says Picarello, people don't even notice that "the church is surrounded on all sides by the state; that church and state butt up against each other.
The boundaries are usually peaceful, so it's easy sometimes to forget they are there.
As one Becket Fund donor told Picarello ruefully, "At least you know you're not in the buggy whip business." Picarello is a Harvard-trained litigator experienced in religious liberty issues.
But predicting the legal consequences of as big a change as gay marriage is a job for more than one mind.
CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF BOSTON made the announcement on March 10: It was getting out of the adoption business. That same year, partly in response to growing pressure for gay marriage and adoption both here and in Europe, a Vatican statement made clear that placing children with same-sex couples violates Catholic teaching.
The majority ruled that only animus against gay people could explain why anyone would want to treat opposite-sex and same-sex couples differently.
What these bishops are doing is shameful, wrong, and has nothing to do whatsoever with faith." But getting square with the church didn't end Catholic Charities' woes.