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Religious exemptions have already undermined women’s rights. Now exemptions threaten gays and lesbians. The Constitution protected women’s equality and liberty until religious exemptions eroded them. Today, as gays and lesbians stand on the threshold of marriage equality, religious exemptions threaten to diminish their hard-earned constitutional right. For this reason, I argue it is past time to reject the religious exemption theory of religious liberty, which privileges religion over civil and constitutional rights, in favor of neutral laws that govern all. Religious exemptions pervade American law in numerous ways that are harmful to civil rights.

In this essay, I identify three types of religious exemptions — arbitrary, categorical, and hidden — that first developed to restrict women’s rights and now threaten LGBT equality.

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7 Ala. C.R. & C.L.L. Rev. 97 (2015).