The Corner

Are Churches at Risk from Redefined Marriage?

The Associated Press reports that some churches are taking steps to change their bylaws after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act out of a desire to protect themselves from potential claims by same-sex couples. The article reported that some critics argued that such changes were unnecessary and amount to “a solution looking for a problem.”

But as an attorney who defends the constitutional freedoms of churches on a daily basis, all the assurances of those who have been actively seeking to redefine marriage that they will not target churches ring hollow in light of what is already happening. For example, Hawaii passed a civil-unions law that took effect last year. One of the provisions of the law specifies that if a church allows members of the public to use its facilities for weddings, then it cannot deny a same-sex couple the ability to use the church building for a same-sex ceremony. Just last year, the city of Hutchinson, Kansas, attempted to pass an ordinance mandating the same thing.  The FAQs for the ordinance specifically stated: “For example, if a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party.”

Across the pond, a same-sex couple is planning to sue the Church of England to force the church to host its ceremony.

Those who imply that churches are silly or misguided in seeking to protect their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms by proactively adopting bylaw changes simply do not understand the coming threat – or even just simple prudence. There is reason for churches to act now to be prepared.  Alliance Defending Freedom offers free resources to help churches in this process.

Don’t listen to those who claim that churches should do nothing because no threat exists. It doesn’t take an attorney to know that the evidence speaks for itself.

— Erik Stanley is senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom.


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