As the Supreme Court prepares to consider two gay marriage cases this week, scholars are weighing the impact the justices' ruling may have on religious rights.
Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that "adoption of same-sex marriage without robust protections for religious liberty" will expose religious groups and believers to civil lawsuits and government penalties.
He said under President Barack Obama's administration, "the moral propositions associated with traditional religious beliefs are dismissed as irrational and bigoted."
Law Professor Alan Brownstein of the University of California at Davis argued that religious commitment and sexual orientation are both core aspects of individuals that deserve government protection. But he suggested that people of faith may have to offer services and recognition to same-sex couples the same as they do for people with different religious beliefs.