Gay Marriage is Already Impacting the Rights of Churches
August 27, 2013 - 9:42 am
Attorney Erik Stanley writes that churches are at risk from the redefinition of marriage.
[A]s an attorney who defends the constitutional freedoms of churches on a daily basis, all the assurances of those who have been actively seeking to redefine marriage that they will not target churches ring hollow in light of what is already happening. For example, Hawaii passed a civil-unions law that took effect last year. One of the provisions of the law specifies that if a church allows members of the public to use its facilities for weddings, then it cannot deny a same-sex couple the ability to use the church building for a same-sex ceremony. Just last year, the city of Hutchinson, Kansas, attempted to pass an ordinance mandating the same thing. The FAQs for the ordinance specifically stated: “For example, if a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party.”
Across the pond, a same-sex couple is planning to sue the Church of England to force the church to host its ceremony.
San Antonio, Texas — named for a Catholic saint — is considering an ordinance that some fear would effectively ban anyone who believes in the traditional definition of marriage from public service in the city. It’s called, in the finest Orwellian, a “non-discrimination” measure.
Those who imply that churches are silly or misguided in seeking to protect their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms by proactively adopting bylaw changes simply do not understand the coming threat – or even just simple prudence.
Nor do they understand the aggression of the other side. Many solid conservatives and libertarians have long argued that once same-sex marriage is allowed, and/or civil unions become the norm, that will be the end of the story.
They’re wrong. Everything is proceeding as I predicted back in March.
The most likely outcome at this point is that same-sex marriage is ratified. That’s not the end of the story, though. No issue of this magnitude can pass without having many unintended consequences. Roe v Wade really didn’t settle abortion as an issue; arguably that ruling made things worse. Ratifying same-sex marriage will likely lead to discrimination lawsuits against pastors and churches that resist performing ceremonies for same-sex couples, leading to bankruptcies, and eventually, to churches, not the state, vacating marriage. The risk of lawsuits and being bankrupted by court costs will be too great. So many churches that adhere to the current definition of marriage will simply no longer marry anyone, to avoid being taken to court and sued for discrimination.
I also predicted that unchurched America won’t care much what happens to churches. I still hope to be proven wrong about that one.