Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Denying same-sex marriage as a violation of religious freedom

I predicted this argument would take place:  "MY faith allows for two men or two women to marry, so any law that prohibits that is denying my 1st Amendment rights!"
In a novel legal attack on a state’s same-sex marriage ban, a liberal Protestant denomination on Monday filed a lawsuit arguing that North Carolina is unconstitutionally restricting religious freedom by barring clergy members from blessing gay and lesbian couples.
I wonder if these same people are for or against The Little Sisters of the Poor's lawsuit against the HHS, seeking the same religious freedom so as not to be forced to engage in conduct that violates the sisters' tenets of faith?

A comment to the story makes me think some UCC ministers are not the swiftest horses in the race:
This issue goes beyond the same-sex marriage issue. I am a retired UCC pastor who has performed same-sex marriages in Michigan. The participants were fully aware that the state did not regard their marriage as legal but preferred to seek God's blessing through the church. If a pastor can be jailed for a religious rite, what is to prevent the state from jailing a pastor who preaches against the NRA or who officiates at the blessing of animals or who offers a prayer for a convicted felon? If a pastor in NC can be sued for up to $200 for blessing a same sex marriage, can a anti-same sex marriage round up 100 folk to each sue that offending pastor? That could break the budget of mot churches. I stand firm with my own church on this. Keep the government out of the house of worship!

Here is the North Carolina law:
Every minister, officer, or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage under the laws of this State, who marries any couple without a license being first delivered to that person, as required by law, or after the expiration of such license, or who fails to return such license to the register of deeds within 10 days after any marriage celebrated by virtue thereof, with the certificate appended thereto duly filled up and signed, shall forfeit and pay two hundred dollars ($200.00) to any person who sues therefore, and shall also be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
It has been in place since 2012.  No one has gone to jail.  California has the same thing with regard to a license:  for a state-recognized marriage, ya gotta have a license.  And here - the couple has to sue.  So if I follow the logic of the UCC, they are at risk from the gay couple they marry.

Now, what I am waiting for is when the State revokes the authority of the "person authorized to solemnize a marriage" because they refuse to perform a same-sex wedding . . . or criminalizes that refusal if the denied couple sues . . . watch out, Father!

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