Experts Warn Marriage Amendment May Threaten Religious Liberties

March 15, 2004

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On March 15, 2004 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "As the question of gay marriage flares across the US, pressure has mounted on state legislatures to pass constitutional amendments that define marriage as only between a man and a woman. In Massachusetts, the only state where the court has already mandated same-sex marriage, the deliberations have a particular urgency: Lawmakers last week cobbled together a compromise amendment designed to provide an alternative to the court ruling by banning gay marriage but establishing same-sex civil unions with the same legal rights... The amendment 'may do ... more serious and permanent harm than [the court ruling] itself from the standpoint of protecting the religious liberty of individuals, churches, and other religious organizations,' a group of experts from Harvard and other law schools told the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the church's public policy arm. The scholars' key concern: introducing 'civil unions' into the constitutional lexicon. 'It gives wide-ranging license to judges to enforce a new social norm on organizations touched by the law,' they said. 'Precedent from our own history and that of other nations suggests that religious institutions could even be at risk of losing tax-exempt status, academic accreditation, and media licenses, and could face charges of violating human rights codes or hate speech laws.'"