Religious Liberty, Rural Identity, and Same-Sex Marriage.


hello thank you for being here okay so how long have you been a visiting professor at USF this is my fifth year and what classes do you teach I’ve taught a few I have taught con law this year education law and criminals from those classes which one is your favorite to teach [Music] I like education law a lot it’s a small seminar in which we have about 20 students everyone does a paper it’s very social justice oriented students are great I love con law a lot too because that’s my passion that’s where I usually write in education law is kind of just a con law course in of itself not that I don’t love criminal remedies but in terms of my my passion and where I usually write and what I okay so I’m gonna just ask some questions about the article that you wrote for the forum religious liberty rural identity and same-sex marriage in the forum I know that the piece that you are publishing in the forum it discusses part of your upcoming article on rural resentment and LGBTQ equality so for the readers who have no background on your upcoming article can you maybe give us like a little quick synopsis On what your paper is about
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theoretical piece a bit political it’s not what I intended to write so this piece was actually born out of the 2016 election and president now president won I was surprised I think a lot of us were so I wanted to after that happening I sort of switched gears and I wanted to really write about in the modern state of American politics as it relates rights as it in particular rates relates to LGBTQ rights and I wanted to think about what role does anti-gay and anti-female play and anti-queer of the modern populist conservative movement so that’s kind of what the piece is overall about and it it identifies basically a rural urban divide in terms of the way that anti LGBTQ politics plays out and I could speak a little bit more to that with respect to that specific piece for the forum but that’s the overarching sort of thrust of the piece is looking at what to the extent that it’s so many rural states oppose same-sex marriage to begin with now that we have same-sex marriage legalized as per obergefell where has all that anti LGBT sentiment gone a lot of it does seem to be on Geographic lines urban versus rural as reflected in this sort of conservative populist movement and at the center of the article that you wrote for the forum you just mentioned there are really two seminal cases the cake shop case and a obgerfell case can you maybe give us a little bit of background on both of these cases sure so obergefell is the result of over a decade of litigation in federal courts challenging statutory and state constitutional same-sex marriage bans kennedy wrote the opinion struck down all same-sex marriage bans across the United States the rationale essentially sort of hinged on both fundamental right to marry as including same-sex couples and an equal protection analysis as sort of an unequal denial of dignity to people who are in same-sex relationships so we get obergefell in 2015 it’s a relatively it’s a 5-4 opinion so sharply contested then we get masterpiece cake shop this summer so June 2018 and in a lot of ways it’s kind of the sort of conservative follow-up to a obgerfell in that now the same-sex marriage is legal everywhere there is there’s a and a lot of the backlash we’re seeing is coming in the form of First Amendment challenges to laws that would otherwise protect same-sex couples or prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity so masterpiece cake shop was in particular about a religious Baker who objected to making a cake for a same-sex wedding and Colorado’s civil rights law purportedly required the Baker to bake the cake it considered the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered so the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered the denial of baking this cake to be a violation of its civil rights law and so the Baker took the case all the way to the Supreme Court argued that requiring him to bake this cake for a same-sex couple violated his religious freedom and it was compelled speech and so the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the Baker but on very very narrow grounds essentially saying that the Civil Rights Commission below that heard the claim expressed hostility to his religious beliefs and in particular really relied on one statement by one commissioner that talked about the ways in which religion can be used in harmful and derogatory ways and Kennedy writing the opinion thought that that was dismissive of his Christian beliefs those are the kind of two book in cases that the piece touches on and in that piece just briefly you mentioned that the obgerfell decision following not do you think that Kennedy when he wrote the masterpiece cake shop was that a way of him to kind of tilt the balance or tilt the shift in some ways I think that Kennedy was the swing vote I think that he looked for compromise when he defined it Kennedy has been a little bit odd on or across the board on LGBT rights in various decisions so he’s on the equal protection front Kennedy’s been pro-gay in that he struck down lots of laws as violations of protection but he also in several opinions has upheld the First Amendment rights of religious dissenters and free speech dissenters Boy Scouts of America versus Dale is a good example where Kennedy wrote the opinion essentially saying that requiring the scouts to admit an openly gay member would violate their expressive Association rights under the First Amendment so this wasn’t all that surprising to see Kennedy rule in favor of the Baker on this point because I think he sees sort of the First Amendment as the check against the Equal Protection Clause in striking that balance between LGBT minorities and religious folk in general so in your article you do talk about this tension between rural America and urban America could you please elaborate on where is this tension coming from and why does this tension exist yeah I think the piece does is to try to explain where where we’re getting sort of this divide this continuing divide about LGBT rights versus sort of conservative America along Geographic lines and what it really does and this is where the theoretical component of it suggests that there’s two major identities sort of butting heads with respect to rural identity what the social science research seems to suggest is that there are commonalities about rural America that inform this identity or culture that from which world people can draw they seem they tend to be things like community solidarity sameness fitting in, self sufficiency, and largely Christian religiously motivated conformity to gender norms and sexual norms so heterosexuality and very rigid sort of masculinity and femininity rules again that’s not true for everyone who lives in rural America obviously but what I’m arguing is that they’re sort of a a broader identity or a broader culture from which not only people who live in rural America pull but also just conservative politics more generally pool on the other hand you have queer Identity or lgbt identity didn’t need to broadly define and again this isn’t true for everybody who is LGBT but there are you know certain tenants that we think of with respect to LGBT identities as well a lot of you know often sort of fueled by media representations of who we think where people are so you know these things include things like difference, gender nonconformity, obviously sort of a rejection of Christian demands for heterosexuality sort of been a very inherent way to the identity itself a lack of self sufficiency to the extent that this group requires laws to help help them in certain ways sort of lift them up from past discrimination and present discrimination and so because these two identity groups are perceived so differently and and they’re largely perceived on Geographic lines because what what rural America perceives to be LGBT identity they perceive as largely an urban phenomenon the media depictions suggest that all queer people live in the city but that’s where they flourish that that’s where the communities are and again to some extent that’s true but it’s not the full story so we’re seeing what I think we’re seeing is two competing identities clashing that aren’t necessarily as competing as we think they are but that’s sort of the way that the identities have been formed and in pop and social culture from which people can pull and make arguments against the progress of LGBT rights so if you if you sort of subscribe to this idea of rural identity and you feel very strongly about sameness and general conformity and heterosexuality is a core tenant of how you should live your life and self-sufficiency you’re gonna look very askant at the LGBT person who claims difference and who claims queerness and who doesn’t conform to those norms and who does rely on anti-discrimination laws for help and so that’s that’s really what the piece is getting at is at there is a cultural divide that is largely Geographic in nature well that’s all the questions I have thank you so much for your insight and please do check out Professor Boso’s article on the forum thank you thank you

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