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Since yesterday's decision by the Supreme Court guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to marry, it has been fascinating to watch history play out right in front of us. We've seen a lot of joy and celebration across the country in the past 24 hours, but a lot of Americans remain fervently opposed to same-sex marriage. And NPR's Greg Allen reports, they say the fight is far from over.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Following the Supreme Court decision, many opponents of same-sex marriage began talking about passing a constitutional amendment to ban it. But that seems unlikely. Constitutional amendments are easy to talk about but rarely enacted, and polls show a clear majority of Americans support the right of gays and lesbians to marry. But opponents of same-sex marriage say there are other avenues to pursue in Congress, state legislatures and the courts. Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, compares this week's Supreme Court opinion to Roe v. Wade. A future court, he said, could revisit the issue.
BRIAN BROWN: That's why it's critical that people of faith - others who understand that marriage is the union of a man and a woman - get out and support candidates that are committed to overturning this decision.
ALLEN: More immediately, advocates on both sides say the battle will now be in the lower courts and involve religious liberty. Jeremy Tedesco is with Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that's representing a bakery owner in Colorado who was sued after refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple for religious reasons. Tedesco is representing clients in several similar cases. Following this week's decision, he expects same-sex advocates will step up their challenges.
JEREMY TEDESCO: And I think their efforts are, as we've seen already, are primarily targeted at businesses that are owned by religious folks who object to creating expression or being forced to participate in marriage ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs.
ALLEN: Opponents to same-sex marriage say there will be a push now in state capitals to adopt laws protecting business owners whose religious beliefs prevent them from serving same-sex couples. But that's likely to be an up-hill climb. Arizona's conservative Republican governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed a religious freedom law last year, saying it was too divisive. A few months back, Indiana quickly rewrote its religious freedom law and added protections for sexual orientation to head off a threatened boycott. And the battle is likely to be about more than bakeries, printers and flower shops. Marci Hamilton, a law professor at Cardozo Law School, says a Supreme Court decision clearly makes exemptions for churches and ministers who don't want to preside over marriages of same-sex couples.
MARCI HAMILTON: But I think what we'll see is a push for religious non-profits, not just houses of worship, for religious non-profits to be able to get exemptions from having to provide services to same-sex couples.
ALLEN: To that end, same-sex marriage opponents are looking to Congress and a bill called the First Amendment Defense Act. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage says it would protect businesses and non-profits, so-called 501c3 groups that refuse to provide services to same-sex couples.
BROWN: That means they cannot be stripped of the right for federal contracts. They cannot be stripped of their 501c3 status. They cannot be treated as if they are the functional equivalent of racist.
ALLEN: In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote religious groups have a constitutionally protected right to advocate against same-sex marriage. Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom says that's a message from the court that the dispute over same-sex marriage is not like earlier battles over racial discrimination.
TEDESCO: Culturally, we have to make the case that these things are completely different, and I think the Supreme Court rightly recognized that by recognizing that people who believe this do so in good faith.
ALLEN: For those who oppose this week's Supreme Court decision, that may be their most important battle. Greg Allen, NPR News.
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