Exemption for Religious Foes Of Gay Marriage Debated

May 16, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Washington Post

Wire Service: AP


As a growing number of states legalize same-sex marriage, there is growing attention on exemptions for religious institutions and individuals who find the concept morally objectionable and religiously untenable. This week, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) said he would sign legislation to make his state the sixth to legalize gay marriage if the legislature ensured religious protections.

Vermont and Connecticut have enacted laws that exempt clergy from performing same-sex marriages and give religious groups the right to refuse their facilities for same-sex marriage celebrations and allow them to refuse to provide insurance benefits to same-sex partners.

With those exemptions, said George Washington University constitutional law professor Ira Lupu on the legal blog Concurring Opinions, "religious conservatives and secular progressives now have the opportunity to reach political bargains."

But conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage say they are very suspicious of religious exemptions. Some, such as those exempting clergy from performing same-sex marriages, are nothing new because the First Amendment already protects clergy, they say.