Senator Mark Leno introduces religious marriage protection billFeb 3rd, 2010 | By T Lo | Category: News
On January 25th, Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill (SB-906) in the California legislature that affirms and codifies in law that no clergy shall ever be required to perform a marriage contrary to their faith and that no church will ever lose their tax-exempt status over such a refusal.
In the wake of the passage of Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage in California, and of fears stoked by its promoters that clergy would be forced to solemnize such marriages, Sen. Leno deemed the bill necessary.
But from a legal standpoint, it isn’t and never was. In a single sentence where theRev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director of California Council of Churches IMPACT, embraces the legislation he also, perhaps unwittingly, reveals why it’s legally superfluous.
“Senator Leno’s bill is essential to protecting our freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
That’s right. Freedom of religion is protected in all 50 states. When the California Supreme Court decided that same-sex marriages were constitutional, it wasn’t talking about religious marriages. Like most states, California only recognizes civil marriages. Even if your marriage is solemnized in a church, you first have to have that civil license. From a legal standpoint, church marriage is superfluous and thus was never threatened. As far as marriage is concerned, churches were and are free to discriminate against anyone they want.
Fear though, is what makes Senate Bill 906 necessary.
“Some opponents of marriage for same-sex couples have argued that churches and members of clergy would be required to solemnize marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs,” said Senator Leno.
“While we know religious freedom is protected under our Constitution, this legislation eliminates any confusion or doubt under state law, reaffirming that no member of clergy or church will be penalized for refusing to solemnize marriages that violate their religious tenets,” he said.
“In the spirit of personal liberty and respect, this bill takes away any ambiguity about religious freedom when it comes to marriage for same-sex couples.”
Article: Hugh Kramer, The Examiner