More on Marriage & the Fight for Religious Freedom

More on Marriage & the Fight for Religious Freedom

Diane Robertson

On Monday, February 13th, Governor Christine Gregoire signed gay marriage into law making Washington State the seventh in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.  This was big news for both liberals and conservatives, the religious and the non-religious.

One thing that particularly caught my attention was a statement in one of the drafts of the bill  that read as follows:

 “’accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage’ to the public for a fee must offer all those goods for use to homosexual couples seeking marriage or else face a penalty for discrimination.”

This, indeed, would be very bad for many religions in Washington State that believe homosexuality is a sin. It is not uncommon for churches to rent their buildings for the use of weddings.  Many religious leaders were rightly alarmed.

Later, I found this statement retracted. This quote was taken from the original bill, SB 6239. Before the bill was signed by the governor, the bill had been amended and reads as follows:

A religious organization shall be immune from any civil claim or cause of action… based on its refusal to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the solemnization or celebration of a marriage. For purposes of this section: “Recognize” means to provide religious-based services that:  Are delivered by a religious organization, or by an individual who is managed, supervised, or directed by a religious organization;

It is important to note both, the original text and the intent thereof, as well as the amended text that was signed into law. Obviously, the original authors of the bill thought that religions, under nondiscrimination laws, should be forced to allow same sex marriages in their buildings. That is definitely against the first amendment in the Bill of Rights, which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Either, senators and representatives on the Washington State Legislature who respect freedom of religion amended the bill, or the original authors understood that the bill would not pass as written and amended this section to get it passed through the Legislature.

It is good to know what some law makers intended to do and will likely push for in the future, and it is good to know that there are still representatives and senators that will at least try and uphold religious freedom.

In order to help preserve religious freedom, residents of Washington State should note the sponsors of the same-sex marriage legislation and particularly the sponsors of the original bill, and do what they can to keep them from being reelected. You can find a list of sponsors  here .

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