Gay Marriage & Religious Freedom

minister marriage

Ever since the SCOTUS agreed to hear arguments related to gay marriage, some very prominent religious leaders have stated that legally protected gay marriage could force churches to perform gay weddings. Those leaders are lying … and they know it.

Now that gay marriage is legally protected in all 50 states, ministers are freely allowed to refuse to perform weddings for, well, anyone they wish. This protection is absolute. Further, churches are in no danger of losing their tax-exempt status for refusing to perform gay weddings.

Ministers routinely (and legally) refuse to marry couples for a variety of doctrine-based reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Divorce
  • Cohabitation
  • Race
  • Interracial relationships
  • Petitioners are not church members
  • Petitioners have not conducted pre-marital counseling
  • The minister feels the couple is not ready for marriage

Most of these reasons are considered fairly routine among the clergy. The race issue, which has been threatened with legal challenge, is less common but has proven to be legally protected. There is no reason to believe gay marriage will change this well-established legal precedent and cultural status quo.

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The church leaders and religious pundits who are currently insisting churches are now in danger know all this. In fact, they belong to churches that routinely refuse to perform marriages for many of the reasons listed above. Still, they persist in lying to people who trust them. These church leaders and religious pundits should be publicly confronted and forced to admit their intentional deception.

 

What about civil unions?

Some argue that the government should not be in the marriage business at all. That position has some teeth to it and logic behind it … except for one thing: marriage has always and will always include both legal and financial considerations. As such, some level of civil government must regulate these aspects of marriage.

But let’s be honest … for most who advocate civil unions, the argument seems like a compromise, but it’s more of a bait and switch.

When is the last time you heard someone say they were running down to the courthouse to get “civil unioned”? They go to get married, and everyone who goes with them or offers well wishes buys “wedding” gifts and offers blessings on their “marriage.” As long as the couple in question possesses differing anatomy, everyone calls that legal ceremony a “marriage” without a second thought.

Then gays wanted to get married and suddenly there is a chorus of voices calling for the government to get out of the marriage business. That position is not only shortsighted, it is, in most cases, disingenuous.

Nonreligious or eloping or divorced or interracial couples have been getting hitched at the courthouse for as long as any of us can remember. Where have the Defenders of Traditional Marriage been every time a couple opted for a Justice over a Priest? In most cases, they have been standing there as willing witnesses for the happy couple. Now, those same people want to pretend they don’t call that marriage.

 

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