Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lesbian couple denied use of property for ceremony  

A lesbian couple in New Jersey was the victim of discrimination when they were denied usage of church-owned beachfront property to hold their civil union ceremony. They took the issue to the courts, which ruled that the refusal to rent the property violated the state's Law Against Discrimination. From the Huffington Post:

Earlier this month, a state commission headed by J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the director of the Division on Civil Rights and the author of Monday's ruling, recommended that the state allow gay couples full marriage rights.

Opponents of gay marriage cite the case as a prime example of their contention that by recognizing same-sex couples, states are interfering with religious freedoms.

"It's something we have to be careful about," said the Alliance Defense Fund's Raum. "As the rights of same-sex couples increase, the tendency is to have it conflict with the First Amendment rights of religious organizations."

It's definitely difficult to find a balance between religious rights and same-sex marriage rights. I think, in the end, it's not going to be laws that remedy this. What it boils down to is changing people's beliefs and attitudes. Slowly, but surely, religious groups are becoming more accepting of GLBT people. But of course it's going to take decades, since very religious people like to cling to "tradition," meaning no gays allowed. We need to convince these people that gay people are not going away - in fact they are coming out in greater numbers than ever. I wish opponents would use their religious beliefs of respect and love, rather than focus on one tiny passage in the Bible and use it to keep an entire group of people down.

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3 comments: to “ Lesbian couple denied use of property for ceremony

  • December 31, 2008 at 9:20 AM  

    If we are going to demand the separation of church and state to our benefit in the aspect of the legalization of gay marriage, then we have to honor the rights of religious institutions to refuse the use of their property for such ceremonies. Like you, I hope that one day the church will come to understand that their objections to homosexuals are based in bigotry but until that day arrives, we must respect their right to maintain their separateness.

  • December 31, 2008 at 10:10 AM  

    I agree with Lynette - I'm pretty sure religious groups always have the right to deny usage of their property or marriages in their houses whenever and however they wish. Within many organized religions, a couple must meet with a religious leader and be "approved" to get married there. I know it's true in Catholic churches that they can (and do) deny people to marry if they feel the couple isn't "ready".

    It's similar to how a company is allowed to refuse service to anyone at any time and for any (or not) reason. The organizations get to have their own rights and much as the people do. Unfortunately, it does allow for discrimination and the couple does have the right to fight it, but I do feel it's perfectly legal. The gov't and especially religious groups have a long way to go to catch up to civil rights.

    But do they really want to use an establishment that didn't want their money and they had to fight?

    But this is one of the reasons some are against gay marriage- they are afraid the gov't will force religious houses to host ceremonies that they are against.

  • December 31, 2008 at 1:18 PM  

    Exactly - opponents of gay marriage are using this as an "example" of how the legalization will impose on religious rights.

    But Lynette and Danielle, keep in mind that the court ruled in favor of the same-sex couple... so technically, the church doesn't have the right to refuse usage of their property based on sexual orientation.

    Danyell, as far as wanting or not wanting to use an establishment that didn't want their money, I think it was more the principle of the matter. The couple didn't just want to say, "OK, thanks anyway," and walk away, because they clearly saw something wrong with the way the church was treating them.