Sunday, August 31, 2014

To the Craigslist Ranters Who Are Upset by Gay Marriage and Who Fear that Marriage Equality Activists Will Sue Your Chuch...

I've written before that I enjoy visiting the Craigslist "rants & raves" section -- sometimes. There is a tendency to break into racist rants and those rants never seem to get successfully flagged, which bugs me. But otherwise I enjoy reading the rants.

Somebody posted the following rant yesterday on Craigslist:
A Christian couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host a lesbian wedding on their New York farm has decided to close the venue rather than violate their religious beliefs. The gay New Jersey couple took the farm owners to court when they refused to host their 2012 wedding, they host about a dozen weddings a year. The farm owners were willing to host the reception, but not the actual ceremony. 
The "farm" in question is a business that offers employment for "over 100 positions" (according to their Facebook page) that operates as a wedding venue and event facility and that is open to the public. They operate in New York and that state has a law that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (Incidentally, the state also bans discrimination on the basis of race and gender and religion and a few other factors.) The business is a place of public accommodation and cannot discriminate against potential customers on the basis of sexual orientation. They were then fined for violating the law.

The business in question is considering an appeal -- especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court judgment in favor of Hobby Lobby, which said that a closely-held company could deny some forms of contraception to its employees because they conflicted with the religious beliefs of its owner.

I'm always curious about these businesses that refuse to work with same-sex couples on the basis of religious beliefs. Why do their religious beliefs only apply to same-sex couples?

I just glanced at the website for that "New York farm." They do not identify their business as a religious venue. They don't say that they only allow certain types of Christian weddings. Would they turn away a family who wanted to host their son's Bar Mitzvah there? What if a couple wanted to host a traditional Hindu wedding at the facility? Maybe they would indeed turn away such groups on the basis of religion, but that would violate the law also.

Here is the deal. Some states and some communities specifically ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They added sexual orientation to a laundry list of attributes that you cannot discriminate against, such as race, gender, religion, national origin, marital status, etc. If your governmental representatives are going to legislate that you cannot discriminate against folks on the basis of -- among other things -- sexual orientation, then do not be surprised when you get in trouble for discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

I read one article where the couple who owns this "New York farm" said that they have teens living on the property and that they do not want those teens thinking that a lesbian wedding is moral. Here is one possible solution that could meet that desire while staying within in the law: Have your kids go to a friend's home for a sleepover. You don't violate the law and your kids won't have any opportunities to witness any same-sex nuptials.

I do find it interesting that the "New York farm" will stop hosting weddings, but they will continue assisting with wedding receptions. Both are essentially celebrating the new couple's marriage. One is just the ceremony. The other is a dinner and dance party with lots of kissing and drinking and public displays of affection. Just something to think about if you are concerned about what your kids might see, if you see what I mean...

Personally, I wouldn't want to work with a venue that was antagonistic towards my wedding. This is to be one of the most special days in my life. I don't want to run the risk of the venue staff treating my family or my guests badly. There are other venues who would gladly work with a gay or lesbian couple and I will gladly spend my money there instead.

Anyway, that original Craigslist post prompted this response:
Remember this post. Holy men are next. Gays will start taking legal action against holy men and churches that refuse to provide marriage services to them.
Remember the whole "public accommodation" thing? Churches are private religious entities. They are free to discriminate against anyone that they want. That's why certain denominations get away with banning female leaders. That's why they can refuse or revoke membership to anyone.

That's why this Baptist church in Missouri was well within its legal rights to cancel this wedding two years ago because the couple is black. It's true that there was public backlash against the pastor and the church for making that choice. But nobody ever said that there aren't consequences for the choices that one makes.

Gay marriage has existed in at least one corner of the USA for over a decade -- even longer if you count Vermont and its civil unions. Have you ever heard of a church sued or fined for refusing to allow a gay wedding on its premises? No. Have you ever heard of a pastor (or a priest or a rabbi, etc.) being sued or jailed for refusing a gay wedding? No.

I have heard of politicians who have sought to ban chaplains from voluntarily choosing to officiate at gay weddings.

I have heard of denominations that have punished and defrocked minister after officiating at gay weddings.

I have personally assisted gay couples (back when I was a receptionist at a gay-affirming UCC church) get in touch with my pastor to discuss wedding planning. They had been referred by pastors at other churches who refused to allow their wedding. And that was the legal right of that church and that pastor.

And don't get me started when it comes to churches who legally cancel funerals because the deceased was gay, or churches who fire staff because they are gay and/or gay married, or religious schools who fire staff because they are gay and/or gay married, etc., etc., etc.

So stop worrying about churches getting sued by gay activists. Because it isn't happening and if it ever does happen, they will be quickly laughed out of court.

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