I Agree with the National Organization for Marriage
This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of any other author at Box Turtle Bulletin
April 23rd, 2009
The State of Connecticut has enacted law to formalize the State Supreme Court’s decision which legalized same-sex marriage. At the last minute they accepted amendments which would codify the constitutional rights of religions to reserve recognition to those marriages of which they approve.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) applauds the Connecticut legislature which, in a surprise move today, adopted substantive religious liberty protections as part of what was expected to be a routine bill implementing the Connecticut court decision ordering same-sex marriage.
I agree with this paragraph. *
The language adopted by the State of Connecticut seems reasonable to me. It exempts churches, religious societies and other religious non-profits from “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges” if the refusal is based on their objection to a marriage which is “in violation of their religious beliefs and faith”. It also exempts religious fraternal benefit societies (eg. the Knights of Columbus) to deny membership and insurance benefits. The third provision would exempt religious organizations from recognizing marriages for purposes of adoption, foster care and other social services provided that they don’t receive public funds for those services.
I have no objection to these provisions and I dare say that most gay folk are just fine with them as well. In fact, I don’t see them as any additional protection than was already guaranteed by the US Constitution.
If anti-gays wanted to drop all of their campaigns against marriage equality, in exchange I’d happily support language that redundantly gives their churches and religious organizations the same protections that they’ve always had. I’d make that deal in a second.
But I wonder why Maggie and crowd are so excited. This language, if adopted, would entirely neuter some of her scare stories. She can’t wail about church groups in New Jersey or Catholic Charities in Massachusetts if the proposed laws exempt these organizations. **
Were all states considering marriage to use this language, Maggie would no longer be able to claim that religious freedoms are impacted and would instead be forced to argue her real objections to civil equality: religious arrogance and personal animus.
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* Of course the rest of the release is full of nonsense including the notion that there is “serious potential implications of same-sex marriage for traditional faith communities” and implying that supporters of marriage equality had previously lacked “willingness to accept broad conscience protections.” But we don’t really expect Maggie to be truthful, now do we?
** Ironically, Catholic Charities would not be exempted because they took state money for their adoption program.
Sec. 501. (NEW) (Effective from passage) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges to an individual if the request for such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges is related to the solemnization of a marriage or celebration of a marriage and such solemnization or celebration is in violation of their religious beliefs and faith. Any refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges in accordance with this section shall not create any civil claim or cause of action, or result in any state action to penalize or withhold benefits from such religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society.
Sec. 502. (NEW) (Effective from passage) The marriage laws of this state shall not be construed to affect the ability of a fraternal benefit society to determine the admission of members as provided in section 38a-598 of the general statutes or to determine the scope of beneficiaries in accordance with section 38a-636 of the general statutes, and shall not require a fraternal benefit society that has been established and is operating for charitable and educational purposes and which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization to provide insurance benefits to any person if to do so would violate the fraternal benefit society’s free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States and section 3 of article first of the Constitution of the state.
Sec. 503. (NEW) (Effective from passage) Nothing in this act shall be deemed or construed to affect the manner in which a religious organization may provide adoption, foster care or social services if such religious organization does not receive state or federal funds for that specific program or purpose.