Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why "Religious" Exemptions from "Civil" Same Sex Marriage Won't Help

The same sex marriage legislation that the Minnesota House has sent to the Senate was passed after adding two elements: a religious "exemption" from performing same sex marriages, and the addition of the term "civil", as in "Civil Marriage", apparently between two individuals of the same sex.

We already know that in states which already have same sex marriage (usually by judicial fiat, and in some cases by legislature) the first organizations that find themselves under attack by state regulators and plaintiffs lawyers are churches and church organizations.  Catholic Charities of Boston after 100 years of placing children in homes for adoption was forced to close its doors after same sex marriage was allowed in Massachusetts.  Because of the moral position of their church which objected to homosexuality (and therefore same sex marriage) Catholic Charities asked for a narrow exemption from placing children with same sex couples.  The state's response was a resounding "no".  The same thing is happening now in Illinois, which has passed legislation allowing adoption by same sex couples.

Ocean City, New Jersey, a unique association and city affiliated with the Methodist Church refused a request from a lesbian couple to be married on their property.  To do so would violate Methodist Church law.  The lesbian couple litigated using New Jersey's same sex marriage law combined with the legal theory of public accommodation, and succeeded in having the tax exemption of the religious association that owned Ocean City revoked.  Owners of private businesses, such as the devote Roman Catholic proprietors of the Montpelier Inn in Vermont, were charged with violating Vermont's Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act.  Of special interest in this instance is that the owners of the inn did not refuse a lesbian couple's request to host a civil union reception.  Their "crime" was to express their religious conviction about same sex marriage in suggesting they might not be the best venue for the event.

Even in states which reject same sex marriage moral and religious objectors to the idea are subjected to persecution by proponents of the idea.  After the passage of California's famous proposition 8, which enshrined traditional marriage in their constitution, Mormons were targeted by the proponents of gay marriage in retaliation for their support of the measure, along with other churches, pastors, and moral and religious individuals and organizations.  In the last days of the campaign, same sex marriage supporters paid for a series of television ads accusing Mormons of having "too much wealth" which they used to "overly influence" the government.  The parallels to anti-semitic propaganda used by neo-nazi and white supremacist groups is striking, and its use against a particular religious group should be a warning.

Should this legislation become law in Minnesota, the same will happen here, even with the "religious exemption" and "civil marriage" clauses.  Religious organizations, such as adoption agencies, will find themselves persecuted when they follow their moral and religious precepts.  Public school teachers and other government employees will face discipline or dismissal for holding to their moral or religious convictions about marriage.  And an exemption based on religious conviction should terrify all individuals and citizens who hold moral convictions based on natural law, reason, history or common sense about marriage.  Why would a religious association be necessary for exemption?  Why is the moral objection of the individual citizen not enough?  But they will have no exemption.

Please urge the Minnesota Senate to vote down this legislation.  See the previous post for their contact information.

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