Cal. Legislature to Consider Bill to Protect Clergy from Being Forced to Perform Gay Marriages
Seriously, people. What’s the point of this bill. You can’t force the clergy to perform any religious rite with legislation. I understand wanting to protect them, but this is protecting them from something that can’t happen anyway.
Proponents of gay marriage are backing the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act, which would add to the section of law which permits clergy to perform (civil) marriage ceremonies:
No person authorized by this subdivision shall be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith. Any refusal to solemnize a marriage under this subdivision shall not affect the tax exempt status of any entity.
Gay marriage advocates are often accused of wanting to force priests and other clergy to perform gay marriages. Although that’s not true and a moot point anyway since the First Amendment prevents it, it seems that since some folks are worried about it the best thing would be to clearly and unequivocally take it off the table.
The bill also changes California’s marriage statutes to refer to "civil marriage" instead of just "marriage" to emphasize that the statutes apply to legally-binding, state-regulated marriages as contrasted with purely religious marriages that have no civil consequences. I’m not as crazy about this part of the bill, though I understand why people want to emphasize the difference between the two.