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Phillip Taylor MBE review. Religious Freedoms, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground

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BOOK REVIEW

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, LGBT RIGHTS, AND THE PROSPECTS FOR COMMON GROUND

Edited by William N Eskridge Jr and Robin Fretwell Wilson

ISBN: 978 1 10847 015 5

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

www.cambridge.org

AN IMPORTANT STATEMENT ON FREEDOMS FOR 2019 AND BEYOND

An appreciation by Elizabeth Robson Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE, Head of Chambers
and Reviews Editor, “The Barrister”

For some professionals and advisers this area of “freedom” remains both difficult and controversial, and, certainly, a difficult area of work.

Published by Cambridge University Press, the editors, William N Eskridge Jr and Robin Fretwell Wilson offer these comments on the freedoms we enjoy as some assistance when identifying that the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) have been “strongly contested by certain faith communities, and this confrontation has become increasingly pronounced following the adjudication of a number of legal cases”. Thus, we have the continuation of a main area of “hard cases” arising from legal decision-making which has hit the headlines in recent years.

The two writers continue, observing that “the strident arguments of both sides enter a heated political arena” and at a time of some retrenchment of issues of freedom in the eyes of some observers. Of course, such issues bring forward “the deeply contested question of whether there is any possibility of both communities’ contested positions being reconciled under the same law”.

What the publishers, CUP, offer us is a work which brings together what they usefully describe as “impactful voices from the faith, LGBT advocacy, legal, and academic communities – from the Human Rights Campaign and ACLU to the National Association of Evangelicals and Catholic and LDS churches”. In other words, a very substantial body of opinion with what some may term a modern approach to this area of “freedom” which for many remains highly controversial although the tides seem to be ebbing just a bit.

The editors have found expert contributors who put forward what they call “a 360-degree view of culture-war conflicts around faith and sexuality – from Obergefell to Masterpiece Cakeshop – and explore whether communities with such profound differences in belief are able to reach mutually acceptable solutions in order to both live with integrity”.

We feel that this book is not just for the lawyer and adviser but also for the philosopher possibly seeking, not an alternative view, but a fresh approach to a common problem where there is or should be common ground. At least we would like to think so, but the issue of “freedom” is inevitably mixed in with prejudice, but we think the prospects for common ground remain strong at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Thank you, CUP, for this most interesting new work on freedom at a time of continued change and modernization.

The book was published on 3rd January 2019.