The Religious Exemption to the New York Same-Sex Marriage Bill

As I write this, the New York state Senate is about to vote just voted to make same-sex marriage legal 33-29. (Hallelujah!)

To ensure the passage of the bill, though, a “religious exemption” amendment had to be passed first.

I’ve boldfaced what I consider to be the important parts:

Religious Exception.

1. Notwithstanding any state, local or municipal law, rule, regulation, ordinance, or other provision of law to the contrary, a religious entity as defined under the education law or section two of the religious corporations law, or a corporation incorporated under the benevolent orders law or described in the benevolent orders law but formed under any other law of this state, or a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious corporation, or any employee thereof, being managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious corporation, benevolent order, or a not-for-profit corporation as described in this subdivision, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage. Any such refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action or result in any state or local government action to penalize, withhold benefits, or discriminate against such religious corporation, benevolent order, a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious corporation, or any employee thereof being managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious corporation, benevolent order, or a not-for-profit corporation.

2. Notwithstanding any state, local or municipal law or rule, regulation, ordinance, or other provision of law to the contrary, nothing in this article shall limit or diminish the right, pursuant to subdivision eleven of section two hundred ninety-six of the executive law, of any religious or denominational institution or organization, or any organization operated for charitable or educational purposes, which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, to limit employment or sales or rental of housing accommodations or admission to or give preference to persons of the same religion or denomination or from taking such action as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained.

3. Nothing in this section shall be deemed or construed to limit the protections and exemptions otherwise provided to religious organizations under section three of article one of the constitution of the state of New York.

You know what? I’m fine with the exemption. Years from now, it’ll be proof that while the majority of the public — and the majority of NY senators — was in support of marriage equality, certain religious groups wanted to hold back progress. They wanted their bigotry enshrined in the law.

Besides that, though, I believe in church/state separation. Churches have every right to be bigots. The government does not. As long as gay couples have the ability to get married, and as long as they get the same rights as straight couples, the fact that churches want nothing to do with them isn’t that concerning to me. We’ve long known that evangelical Christian churches (among others) treat gay people with incredible contempt. This is no different.

But, at least this time around, they won’t be an obstacle to equal rights.

***Update***: Christianity Today explains the significance of the exemptions:

Opponents of the Assembly bill also wanted exemptions for individuals and businesses who objected to gay marriage for religious reasons. These individuals could be in violation of local ordinances. They could also be forced to allow gay couples to use their facilities. For example, without exemptions, critics argued, a business that rents its facilities for weddings could not refuse a couple simply because they were a same-sex couple.

The bill also included language making it impossible for a judge to strike down only the religious exemptions. If the exemptions are ruled to be unconstitutional, the extension of marriage to same-sex couples would be struck down, too.

***Update***: I like how MikeTheInfidel puts it:

… let the bigoted religious groups refuse to perform marriage ceremonies. It’ll be a good way to sort out the hateful fools from the more reasonable folks, and it’ll push people to leave organized religions and thus force church officials to come to grips with just how out of touch they are with the rest of humanity.

***Update***: Catholic bishops have released this statement. They don’t sound very happy…

The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled.

We strongly uphold the Catholic Church’s clear teaching that we always treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love. But we just as strongly affirm that marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children, ordered for the good of those children and the spouses themselves. This definition cannot change, though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.

We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.

Our society must regain what it appears to have lost — a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.

“Ridiculed” is right. That’s exactly what they deserve. It would be funnier, though, if their religious views didn’t cause so many people so much pain.

It sounds like the bishops are completely unaware that New York is the 6th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Families and marriages are doing just fine all the other five states…

But guess what? That statement doesn’t matter. Because same-sex marriage is now legal in New York. *Cue happy dance*

***Update***: President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler, isn’t very happy either:

But guess what? That statement doesn’t matter. Because same-sex marriage is now legal in New York. *Cue happy dance*

  • AxeGrrl

    WOO HOOO!! :)

    great news :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/GabyYYZ Gaby A.

    “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” – Winston Churchill

  • http://www.NoYourGod.com NoYourGod

    In 1990 my fiance and I were trying to find a place to get married. She wanted a more traditional setting, while I did not really care. She was a theist, but I was an atheist. We looked at a few of the more liberal churches, one (I forget which flavor) was promising… until I said I was an atheist. He said “I could perform the marriage if you worshiped anything – and ant, sheep, anything. But if you don’t worship anything, I can’t do anything for you.”

    You know what? It was his church, and his prerogative, and I was fine with that. We ended up being married by a friend who was a notary public (NPs could perform marriages in Florida).

    So, a bunch of folks who believe a magical sky ghost and base those beliefs on a book written 1800 years ago (as well as others who hold similarly ridiculous beliefs) don’t want to perform marriages on two people who are in love. That’s cool – as long as the state itself has process in which those two lovers can be married.

  • mthrnite

    WOOT!

  • http://thishollowearth.wordpress.com/ Victor

    Well, churches have always had the right to refuse to perform any particular marriage. But, if they need it in writing. Again. They can have it.

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Just a short while ago I blogged about this, too… and we reached pretty much the same conclusions :)

  • Meredith

    Thank you for the wording and the explanation. It was helpful to not diminish the loveliness and joy that I feel right now with the disgust of those who put every ‘just in case’ clause in there as well.

    Its a wonderful night!

  • http://www.themadskeptic.com Myron Getman

    I agree. The only people working against marriage equality in New York were religionists. When it became apparent the vote wasn’t going their way, the religionist protesters kneeled and started praying at the same sex marriage protesters as if to illustrate the point.

  • abadidea

    Most of us didn’t want to get married in one of their silly temples anyway.

    Party time!

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    I’m very excited about this, but…

    The wording of the exemptions make my brain hurt. Doesn’t #2 allow for a religious charity to discriminate in regard to employment or housing?

    Notwithstanding any state, local or municipal law or rule, regulation, ordinance, or other provision of law to the contrary, nothing in this article shall limit or diminish the right…to limit employment or sales or rental of housing accommodations or admission to or give preference to persons of the same religion or denomination or from taking such action as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained.

    If it does, what if that organization or charity receives federal funds? Why extra protections besides those already in place?

    I’m concerned a judge could rule the exemptions unconstitutional and the indivisibility clause in the law would then render the entire law void.

  • Julien

    I’m with Chris on this one, but I think it goes even further. If we grab only one stream of thought from section 2 of the document:

    “nothing in this article shall limit or diminish the right [...] of any religious or denominational institution [...] to give preference to persons of the same religion or denomination or from taking such action as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained.”

    I read this as a wide-open invitation for all sorts of nasty things. Don’t want to allow gay couples to adopt? Perfectly fine, as you’re allowed to do whatever will ‘promote your religious principles.’ That’s just one nasty side effect of this bill – I’m sure more cynical minds would find quite a number of others.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    If we are to have equal protection under the law, shouldn’t religious exemptions be in all laws regarding any marriage? This could be a judicial nightmare and there goes NY marriage. I hope not.

  • http://newly-nerfed.net Joey H.

    I’m also fine with the exemption. I agree people should not be forced into officiating a marriage they don’t approve of — and what couple would even want such an officiant? Religious bigotry is unlikely to change; I’m thrilled that Republican bigotry just took a little vacation. :D

    Besides, New York has no shortage of LGBT-friendly churches and congregations. (I know, this argument won’t work in a lot of places.)

  • Trace

    Good!

    #2 troubles me.

    …”timeless truths” & “true understanding…” umh.

  • PJB863

    Religious exemptions are already in the law regarding marriage – ex. if you were married in a catholic church, divorced, and try to marry someone else in the church, they will not perform that ceremony. If you are both baptists and wanted to be married by a jewish rabbi in a synagogue, he/she would probably not do it. As for foster care, adoptions, etc., these organizations can still discriminate on whatever basis they want, they just can’t receive taxpayer money for it. Those exemptions really are meaningless – I think the legislators were tossing a bone to the theists, while tossing the steak to the progressives.

    Now we get to watch the bishops’ heads explode, leaving their mitres (bishops hats) laying on the ground – tee hee hee!

  • http://parsleyvictorious.blogspot.com Parsley Victorious

    Something that I’m kind of hoping is that the members of the Churches that won’t perform marriages for gay people will see the bigotry for what it is, and will either leave their Church for a more progressive one – or perhaps leave religion altogether.

    They may have just helped to decrease religious following in the states even more.

  • Matthew A. Harmer

    Well, time to get my celebrant certification.

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Chris:

    Why extra protections besides those already in place?

    I don’t think they’re extra protections, per se, just a reassurance to the bigots that the protections they already have won’t be limited. Not that this justifies the protections in any way…

  • Patrick

    The religious exceptions are a bit problematic. The general rule is that religious groups can discriminate when they’re operating as religious groups, but if they’re operating in a secular capacity, they have to comply with secular laws. So a church can discriminate when its behaving as a church, but if it opens up a fruit stand it has to comply with all secular laws that cover any other fruit stand since the operation of a fruit stand is not a religious activity.

    This changes that rule, and permits religious groups to engage in secular activities, or even “supervise” otherwise secular charitable organizations, and then discriminate in operating them both in their internal operation and in the services provided.

  • http://dogmafreeceremonies.webs.com Rev. Michael R. Burhans

    Good for New York! Sadly I live in Michigan where anti-gay bigotry is currently enshrined into our Constitution. Even worse the GOP is now ramming a bill through our state legislature making it illegal for companies to offer same-sex couples benefits. I’m deeply shamed by this action.

    NoYourGod,

    I would have been happy and proud to marry you and your fiancee. Love between consenting adults is a beautiful thing and there are enough forces in the world working against it to add meaningless ones to it.

  • JerseyJ9

    So when the prop 8 trial makes it to the Supreme Court and they pass marriage equality for the entire country, these discriminatory ‘exemptions’ will be dropped/challenged and this will all get sorted out. So enjoy your two years of State money without having to follow State anti-discrimination rules!! That’s all you’ll have.

  • Adrian

    Yay for all New-Yorkers! I do not see the point of the amendments as churches have always had that right anyway as far as I can tell, a church leader has always been able to deny their services. I think the sooner churches work out that marriage has little to do with religion for many people the better.

  • JerseyJ9

    They ARE extra protections. Remember the case catholic charities lost in IL to the tune of 33mil in State money when they decided to close instead of letting married gays adopt?? That is what they wanted to prevent in NY, unintended consequences.

  • andrew

    the proceedings as compiled by moi (i only wish i would have captured more of Senator Duane – his statement before the recording was truly moving):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_WFp20n_HY

  • Richard Wade

    This is wonderful. Once again, I got to watch history happen in real time. Another tentacle loosens in religion’s death grip on humanity.

    Barring any unforeseen negative implications, I’m not just okay with the religious exemptions, I’m glad they’re there. The churches will just exempt themselves more and more out of people’s lives. People will have less and less need of their “services” and their input will be less and less relevant.

    Some day, not so far off any more, when the Shamans disapprove of something, society’s overall response will be, “So?” Not so long after that, the overall response will be “Who?”

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    Our society must regain what it appears to have lost — a true understanding of the meaning and the place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.

    How arrogant. “As revealed by god”. Like these bigoted twits have the first idea of what god reveals. Oh, but not only do they know what GOD THINKS…

    respected by America’s foundational principles.

    They think a rewrite of history is just fine in glorifying this god who’s thoughts they think they know.

  • Julien

    PJB863: thanks, your explanation makes me feel better.

    Richard, that would be a wonderful day indeed, but I don’t think you can extrapolate like that, any more than I believe you can extrapolate the rate of growth of Latinos to say that America will someday be 100% Latino/a. Religion knows how to twist and shift itself just enough to stay culturally relevant while claiming it is ‘timeless,’ and I’m certain that in 10-20 years when it is common practice they will have embraced gay marriage and want to ‘put this whole misunderstanding behind us.’ Not only that, they will attack any atheists that bring it up, claiming that we are misrepresenting them or mudslinging and that ‘it was a different time’ and their position was ‘not as enlightened’ or some such and that they shouldn’t be judged for it – sound at all familiar?

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    Religion knows how to twist and shift itself just enough to stay culturally relevant

    THIS.

    One hundred years from now, the religionists will claim they were on the forefront of the fight for gay rights.

  • Richard Wade

    I don’t think that religious organizations using the exemptions to continue discrimination in services such as arranging adoptions will be that much of a problem, and here’s why: Secular adoption organizations will be able to compete with the churches for the state money, because they can promise better results. They will give services to all applicants, not just some. The states will say to the Catholic Charities of Such-and-Such, “Thanks anyway, but we found an agency that will serve more people for the same amount of our money. Bye.”

  • http://iwanttobeagaydad.wordpress.com Alan E.

    If anything, I love you for doing a happy dance =)

  • Dan W

    Let some churches be bigots. You don’t need a church to get married. Good job New York!

  • Richard Wade

    Julien,
    I see your point and my fantasy may not be quite as imminent, but I’m still optimistic because all of that waffling, rationalizing, equivocating, pandering, and good old fashioned lying takes its toll. Every time they do that, they lose credibility with people of 75 IQ and above. The more they change their story, the less intelligence it takes to see through their fraud. So as time goes by, they’ll only attract and keep the dumber and dumber members. They will have fewer smart ones in their ranks to rise to leadership. In the meantime, atheists won’t be idly and passively waiting around. Their ranks will swell with the smarter ones, who will rise to leadership in many facets of society.

  • Julien

    Richard,
    I agree with you wholeheartedly, but I see religion differently, as a snake that sheds its skin. People eventually become disenchanted with a religion, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to apply to religion in general. As time goes on, we’ve seen religions again and again fall by the wayside, only to be replaced by new sects with a slight twist on the message and none of the baggage associated with the old religion. And so Madzaism is shed like a skin, only to be replaced by Judaism which is largely replaced by Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and any number of splinters.

    So as a student of history, I remain skeptical, but I dearly hope that you are right. Perhaps in this age, with so much knowledge and communication, and with atheists like yourself not “idly and passively waiting around,” they won’t be able to pull a fast one on us anymore.

    In any case, congratulations New York!

  • fiddler

    YAAAAAY!!!

    I’m so incredibly happy! I’ve been working so hard and in so many states and each time this victory is so very sweet! Some of us are hetero and some aren’t, but thanks to everyone who got out and did something. Everyone involved has made America a little better and a lot more equal!

  • Richard Wade

    Julien, good points again. I think one important difference will be the increasingly ubiquitous internet. It’s not just a communication device which we atheists are exploiting to our advantage to form a community, it’s also an information storage and retrieval device.

    Lying and double-talking politicians have still not adjusted to the internet’s ability to immediately find something they said two years ago, and instantly bring it up to show they’re contradicting themselves. “Excuse me Senator Blowhard, on May 3, 2007 in Albuquerque you said you were against this and always would be. Now you say that you have always been for it. Which is the truth?”

    Those ancient religions were able to shed their skin and be free of their embarrassing past because books were very rare, soon crumbled into dust, and almost nobody could read anyway. Civilization had a very short memory. Now, with one or two clicks anyone can double check on any church leader’s mealymouthed denial of their previous positions. While the churches in a few years will try to spin, and rewrite history, and deny they were ever on the wrong side, as the saying goes, “The internet is forever.”

  • http://www.calladus.com Calladus

    A religious entity, corporation, or not for profit corporation…. doesn’t have to provide service to same-sex couples.

    Does this mean that Catholic hospitals can refuse to take the advice of a same-sex partner? That a same-sex spouse won’t be allowed in to see their spouse because they are not “family” in the eyes of the Catholic church?

    This could be a very rotten loophole.

  • Ba

    I think it’s fine to have a religious exemption. Churches should not have to marry people they don’t want to marry.

    Some churches will perform gay weddings, and not just the MCC. I went to a gay “wedding” here in Texas performed by a minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). You know, the dudes with the chalice and foreshortened cross logo. They had filed lots of legal documents that made them essentially married. This is not quite as good as legal gay marriage. Marriage grants certain rights and powers automatically, these grooms could get these powers only through lots of paperwork.

    Most romantic wedding evar. I cried when one groom sang From This Moment On to the other.

    Good for New York! It will be a few years more here in Texas, but it will happen sooner than you think. Houston has a quasi-legally married gay mayor.

  • John Small Berries

    The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage

    So how could Martialis have written about men marrying each other “in the same way as a virgin is usually taken in marriage by her husband” back in the first century CE, if same-sex marriage was not already a part of “humanity’s historic understanding of marriage”? Why would the Theodosian Code, written in the year 342 CE, have needed to prohibit same-sex marriage if it was not part of “humanity’s historic understanding of marriage”?

    I mean, not to mention that in modern times, it’s already been legal under the name of marriage for the past eleven years?

  • Stephen P

    I share the concerns of others about exemption #2, but if that was the price of getting this through, it was worth it. And in a decade or so, when people have discovered that same-sex marriage hasn’t caused the collapse of society, and on the other hand that this exemption is encouraging religious nastiness, it can be duly swept into the dustbin of superseded laws.

  • Kent Schlorff

    As an ex-Catholic, I have to give the bishops credit for being consistent with the hateful bullshit that I was taught in school.

    You go, gays!

  • http://nathandst.blogspot.com Nathan DST aka LucienBlack

    Huzzah!

    I’m fine with the exemptions. It would be a little hypocritical if I wasn’t, since I would prefer the government to have just “civil unions,” and leave marriage to those who want the ceremony. Barring that, marriage equality for all!

    Now, who wants to help Minnesota avoid the mistake of enshrining an antiquated, bigoted notion of marriage into it’s constitution in 2012?

  • Erik

    I don’t understand. Why is it okay for a business (church) to refuse a paid service (marriage) to homosexuals on the basis that it is against their beliefs? Isn’t it illegal to put up a sign in your shop window that says ‘no blacks’? Why are these institutions allowed to put up (metaphorical) signs that say ‘no gays’?

    Does anyone know if a church would be allowed to refuse service to a black person/ if it could get them into legal trouble?

    I think we should be angrier about this, and that we might be allowing a small slight in exchange for a large victory. I do hope that the exemption is ruled unconstitutional.

  • Timothy

    Great news! btw, small question, who is Albert Mohler and why should I care?

  • Stephen P

    @Timothy: he’s a sort of Southern Baptist pope. And if you live in the US you should probably care, because he’d like your life to be ruled by a fantasy.

  • Richard Wade

    Great news! btw, small question, who is Albert Mohler and why should I care?

    Well said, Timothy. That’s exactly what we will hear more and more. Anachronism becomes irrelevance, which becomes obsolescence, which becomes oblivion, which becomes extinction. Fugetaboutit.

  • deathby2

    “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage”

    The one thing I interpret from this is no organization whether religous or secular has to recognize any marriage. This is a win in my eyes for us single people who are discrimanated against in the workplace. I’m sick of subsidizing everyone’s families.

  • Gordon

    I agree it is a good thing to have the proof. One day the christians will turn around and say they were the vanguard of gay rights and it’ll be easy to show they are liars.

    “Christians have always supported gay rights and opposed slavery, and always believed the Earth went around the Sun”

    - no, you haven’t.

  • silas

    Sadly, the religiously insane will always be with us. I was kicked out of Sunday School 40 years ago for asking “bad” questions. The answer was “Shut up! It’s a miracle”

    And it persists

  • french engineer

    This whole same-sex marriage has always stricken me as a “simple” definition problem.

    “Marriage” refers to two separate things.
    The first is a sacred covenant between a couple and the god they worship.

    The second is a legal contract between a couple and their government, by which the couple agree to give each other material and financial support, and the government extends them privileges in several forms, from fiscal incentives to rights of visitation in hospitals or the right not to incriminate one’s spouse in a court of law.

    I can easily understand that people claiming to speak for that god, and who sincerely believe that their god disapproves of same-sex couples, don’t want to be “forced” to marry same-sex couples, and it is their right.

    But that has no bearing on the contract between a couple and their government.

    The whole mess is due to the fact that the same word “marriage” covers both marriages. When the government changes the terms of applicability of the (civil) marriage contract, the religious leaders feel threatened, because the government is, in their eyes, changing something (religious marriage) over which they have authority.

    So here is the solution I propose:

    Step one : create a “civil union” status, which has all the rights, duties and privileges as marriage, and can be accessed by same-sex couples. I mean exactly the same deal. Copy and paste the relevant articles of law. in fact, ctrl+F the word “marriage” in the big book of las and replace all occurrences with “civil union”

    step two : give the “civil union” status to all currently married couples.

    step 3 : prohibit the government from ever issuing “marriage” licenses, and the churches from issuing civil union status.

    step 4 : let the churches define marriage however they want. Allow couples married in churches to access the civil couple status with a simple procedure (a simple form should do). Render the marriage license legally worthless unless it is backed up by civil unionship papers. Should any business or administration grant privileges to people presenting marriage licenses but not extend the same advantages to people with civil union papers, slap them with a discrimination lawsuit so hard they have to shut down.

    That way:

    – The ambiguity between legal and religious marriage is lifted

    – the religious people can still have their marriage.

    – the same-sex couples can have all the benefits of the current definition of marriage.

    – they can still lobby to have their religion of choice include them if they want, but the government does not interfere with that, as it should not.

    – religiously married people add only the inconvenience of signing a single form, in exchange to keeping the exclusivity on the now-legally-worthless term “marriage”.

    – Currently married people keep their marriage benefits.

    – No more problem with religion and divorce, since “divorce” would no be the cessation of the civil unionship contract. Let the churches say that people are still married and should not remarry if they want.

    And best of all, this solution does not require an ounce of cooperation from churches.

  • Brian Wood

    I can’t imagine any thoughtful New Yorker (I am one) giving rusty rat’s ass what the “ooga-booga jeeesus” crowd thinks about marriage.

  • http://www.jewelisms.com Jewel

    I’m very happy for New York, and very happy for my gay sister who lives in New York. It’s a happy day!

    I don’t really see the religious exemptions as being a problem. It’ll only highlight their bigotry and make it even more obvious they’re nutters.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I think it’s a great day. Even if the law gets challenged and reversed, it is still good because in the big picture any reversal would only be temporary. The public is starting to get use to (and more comfortable with) the idea of gay marriage. The exemptions also just point out (and remind people) that churches can always deny marriage for what-ever reason they want. Gay, inter-racial, atheist, people not in their congregation, red-heads, left-handed, whatever. Other secular institutions will just pick up the slack.

    If religion “sheds its skin” and embraces gay marriage then that would be a good thing. Also, with the increased acceptance of no religion as a valid option in our society, people will no longer automatically align with the newly shedded snakes.

  • bcoppola

    I find it much easier to read RCC pronouncements if I imagine them being spoken with a broad Hollywood Irish “Father Murphy” brogue. Ah, sure and ’tis a shame those nancy boyos are intrudin’ on arr sacred instytushun o’marriage, begorrah! Mother Mary an’ the saints preserve us!

    Anyway, what Hemant said about the religious exemption, esp. chuch/state separation.

    To all the LGBT folks making marriage plans in NY and those other few enlightened states, cheers from this breeder!

  • richardpaul

    Golly,the next thing,you know, Christian ministers will be allowed on TV to bilk people out of millions of dollars and priests will be allowed to molest little boys and girls…WHAT?…wait….Oh, never mind.

  • http://pinkydead.com David McNerney

    Good news everybody – my wife and I have decided to split up and leave our kids to fend for themselves because of this.

    Nahh… just kidding. I turns out our marriage was totally unaffected by this. Who’d've thunk it?

  • http://www.AtheistsHelpingtheHomeless.org Joe Zamecki

    Boo. Freaking. Yeah. Good on New York. Excelsior! (Ever Upward!) :)

  • Steve

    This goes beyond simply performing a wedding.

    A religiously affiliated hospital, school or university can freely discriminate against its employees. That simply shouldn’t be allowed, no matter how they are funded. I don’t know why it’s so widely accepted that churches should be able to do what they want as long as they are privately funded. Ordinary businesses are privately funded too, yet they can’t make their own laws.

    There is also a non-severability clause, that says that if one section of the law is declared void in court, all of it becomes void.

    Still, if that’s what it takes it’s still worth it. NYS is bigger than all of the New England states combined.

  • Michael

    Those concerned about Exemption #2 may be missing a key part of the wording:

    “Notwithstanding any state, local or municipal law or rule, regulation, ordinance, or other provision of law to the contrary…”

    That neuters any aspects of it which conflict with other law on the issue. If existing law doesn’t provide necessary protections, the door is open for new law to be made without needing to challenge this one and risk jeopardizing an important civil rights victory.

  • Claudia

    It’s a great day. Congratulations to New York and here’s hoping this accelerates matrera in other states where Christianists lack a stranglehold. The more stats have marriage the more likely state governments will unite to demand that the federal government not discriminate against certain states on the basis of their marriage laws, as nonrecognition of the true numbers of married couples will cost the states money. I really don’t like the excemptions. Not requiring a church to perform a weddding is fine but allowing a business to deny services? Why should they get to deny services to a gay couple but not to a black couple? Still if that’s what it took to get it passed it’s worth it.
    Oh and fret not about the bishops. They raises holy he’ll when gay marriage was legalized here in Spain with protests and everything. In return they got… nothing. Gay marriage has been legal for years, enjoys a healthy approval rating and now civil marriages outnumber religious ones. So you guys keep showing that two adult men or women pledging their love for life worries you more than an adult man raping a young boy, see how that works out for you.

  • Chris aka "Happy Cat"

    PJB863 said

    As for foster care, adoptions, etc., these organizations can still discriminate on whatever basis they want, they just can’t receive taxpayer money for it.

    So NY already allows for religious discrimination in regard to adoption and foster care, but won’t now if the organization receives tax dollars? Don’t all such services receive government funds? I wonder how they will operate if they cannot have taxpayer money. Catlicks are stopping adoption services in IL because they are no longer allowed to discriminate against the LGBT community.

    So much for equal protection under the law. My partner died in a Catholic hospital. Under this law, could they have not recognized a marriage between us and denied me visitation in ICU? I’m still unsure how these exemptions will play out in the real world.

  • AliandreD

    I am so excited to see gay marriage come through legislative channels instead of through the courts – it’s good to see state congresses realize that this is coming regardless and that if they want to take the credit they need to act.

    marriage is the joining of one man and one woman in a lifelong, loving union that is open to children

    Way to invalidate my childfree-by-choice marriage, RCC! Maybe I can get an annulment? I’d love to get rid of the religious part of my marriage without getting a civil divorce…

  • http://www.facebook.com/staks Staks Rosch

    I am not happy with the religious exemption. I talk about why in my recent Examiner article: Gay marriage in New York – http://exm.nr/joyJPH
    Congratulations again to all my gay friends in the Empire State.

  • http://urbanmennoniteblog.com Ryan

    We got the same kind of thing in Canada a few years ago, with a similar exemption. It makes a lot of sense – you can’t force somebody to perform your marriage if they’re opposed to it, and churches have always had the right to refuse anybody else who they don’t think should be getting married (usually because they meet with the couple first and see a lot of signs of trouble). And it isn’t a problem to go to a different church to do it or to get a government official, so in my opinion everybody wins – people who are fine with it can do it, and people who aren’t are not forced to do it anyway.

  • Froglet

    I’m fine with the exemptions. It would be a little hypocritical if I wasn’t, since I would prefer the government to have just “civil unions,” and leave marriage to those who want the ceremony. Barring that, marriage equality for all!

    But Nathan, if you go that route, isn’t it just as easy to say ‘anyone who isn’t x-tian (or a recognized theist denomination)’ shouldn’t be allowed to get ‘married’ and only have a civil union? With all the paperwork that goes with it…
    As for the ‘timeless truths of marriage’, I’ll just refer everyone to the video that Hemant posted last week or so from A-News in which he got praised but suggested we watch all of it (which I did, it was good) that included a little insight on ‘traditional marriage’ and ‘American traditional marriage’.
    PS: Being Canadian, I have to wonder if they made the same mistake we did in Ontario, legal marriage, but nothing about divorce…

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    @Ryan, this goes WAY beyond officiating marriages. Again…

    any organization operated for charitable or educational purposes, which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, to limit employment or sales or rental of housing accommodations or admission to or give preference to persons of the same religion or denomination

  • JustSayin’

    Ryan wrote:

    And it isn’t a problem to go to a different church to do it or to get a government official…

    I only skimmed the provision, but I’m wondering if government officials with “religious objections” would be considered as covered under the exemption statute. It’s happened before, in other contexts (pharmacists and contraceptives), so it’s not hard to imagine it in this situation. Say some uppity courthouse clerk who just “don’t think the queers should be allowed to do this” decides s/he just ain’t with the program and refuses to register a couple?

    Does anyone have any information that might prove my fears unfounded?

  • http://n/a Dustin Finney

    The religious exemptions are bullshit as are religious exemptions generally. The law should apply to all, regardless of faith. Every such bill passed giving religions special rights to flout the law only further entrenches this dubious concept. Religious establishments refusing to marry on grounds of faith-based bigotry should lose their right to perform marriages, period. Just imagine if the Civil Rights Act had included religious exemptions so that, “people of faith,” could continue legally refusing service to minorities.

  • Dominick Buscemi

    Religious establishments refusing to marry on grounds of faith-based bigotry should lose their right to perform marriages, period.

    They should also lose their tax exempt status, which is just a back door way to get tax funding for religion.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I love this, it’s causing quite a stir among the fundies, isn’t it.

  • Roger Williams

    @albertmohler
    It’s a sad day that conservative Baptists in particular have a higher divorce rate than atheists!! You should take that giant redwood out of your eye before picking at a speck of dust in someone else’s eye!!

  • Joseph Caine

    I love how the Albert Mohler wears his privilege on his sleeve – apparently it’s a sad day when something is legalized that doesn’t actually hurt him or affect his life in any meaningful way, and makes millions of people happy, just because he doesn’t believe in it.

  • Leena

    *happy dance*
    YAYY! Progress :D
    Amazing news!

  • Saltyestelle

    Yay!

  • Natalie Sera

    Hemant! You can’t use the word Hallelujah! Because it literally means “praise to god” in Hebrew.

    Find a word more consistent with your own beliefs — there have to be a lot of words that would adequately express your jubilation!

    Smiles,

    Natalie ._c-

  • PJB863

    Chris aka “Happy Cat”: No, they can’t. You are legally the next of kin, if you are married, or civilly united. In that situation, they’d be opening themselves up to a huge lawsuit and they know it, which is why we haven’t seen this situation occur in MA, VT, CT, etc. – i.e. places where they’ve had CU’s/Marriage Equality for awhile. They may be Catholic hospitals (owned by a religious order, not the church itself), but they are incorporated as hospitals (businesses – albeit not for profit), not religious organizations.

  • Vystrix Nexoth

    french engineer:

    Marriage isn’t an inherently religious institution any more than government is.

    On a social level, “marriage” is what counts: “will you civil-union me?” doesn’t work. So, to yield the word “marriage” to religion (as though it were their word) is to yield an important part of society to religion (as though it were theirs) and place it under their control (as though they should have it).

    Let them call religious marriage “faith unions” or something.

  • AxeGrrl

    Vystrix Nexoth wrote:

    Marriage isn’t an inherently religious institution any more than government is.

    On a social level, “marriage” is what counts: “will you civil-union me?” doesn’t work. So, to yield the word “marriage” to religion (as though it were their word) is to yield an important part of society to religion (as though it were theirs) and place it under their control (as though they should have it).

    Let them call religious marriage “faith unions” or something.

    Exactly. You nailed it.

    This “let them have marriage and the secular can have civil unions” nonsense is just that….nonsense. Religion doesn’t ‘own’ marriage, no matter how long and how loudly they proclaim to.

  • Nicoline

    It’s a great day for the people of New York and a good omen for the rest of the country, especially if we can persuade the president to evolve already :-) However, Holland has had same sex marriage since 2001 and they’re still wrangling over religious exemptions. Now for any marriage to be legal in Holland, it has to be performed by a municipal official. People can choose to have a church wedding after that if they insist. But the trouble is that some insist that even newly hired municipal officials must be able to say that performing same sex marriage goes against their religion and leads to a moral conflict for them. So I think NY (and any other state that wants to legalize same sex marriage) should be very careful how they word these religious exemptions, or we’ll be dealing with that religious BS until whenever. Just like pharmacists can deny someone the morning after pill or even regular birth control because their idiotic beliefs tell them they are the same as abortion.

  • Cassie

    “Besides that, though, I believe in church/state separation. Churches have every right to be bigots. The government does not.”

    I’m a Christian and agree with this statement 100%. Churches don’t have to accept homosexuality, but cannot expect the government, which is secular, to do the same.

  • AxeGrrl

    Nicoline wrote:

    But the trouble is that some insist that even newly hired municipal officials must be able to say that performing same sex marriage goes against their religion and leads to a moral conflict for them.

    Ah, this happened here in Canada ~ where a marriage officiant wanted to refuse to perform same sex marriages on the basis of it being ‘against his/her religion’ ~ and happily (and rightfully), it was refused!

    the court noted that marriage commissioners are appointed by the government to perform non-religious ceremonies and are the only option for some same-sex couples seeking to tie the knot.”

    Marriage Officials Can’t Refuse Gays

  • Rich Hugunine

    I think it is rather sweet of Archbishop Dumb Ass Dolan to openly invite ridicule.

  • Epistaxis

    You make it sound like the State of New York is being generous to bigoted churches. Hardly. The state has no right to tell them which marriages they can consecrate even if it wanted to. It’s unfortunate that this special clarification was necessary to counteract the plague of misinformation out there; the government is never going to require your minister to wed same-sex or previously divorced or interracial couples.

  • Steve

    @Epistaxis
    Contrary to what Hemant suggests this goes far beyond performing weddings

    Churches are indeed given a great many special rights here. Any religiously affiliated organization, school, university, hospital or business is legally allowed to discriminate against its employees. Even when they operate entirely within the secular sphere. Why should that be allowed?

    One politician even wanted anyone to be allowed to discriminate based on his religious beliefs. Thankfully that didn’t go through, but the current exemptions still create plenty of loopholes.

  • http://neosnowqueen.wordpress.com/ neosnowqueen

    I actually support religious exemptions because religious marriage isn’t a universal right. Leaders of religious institutions don’t have to marry every couple that comes to them, straight or gay, and they have the right to deny people marriage because of their religious beliefs. The same principle applies.

    I may not agree with their decisions, but I think religious institutions and even private organizations (which can deny customers as they please) should hash it out amongst themselves rather than have the state decide things for them. I guarantee it’ll cause minor and even major implosions, but it’s necessary to do it that way.

  • Daniel Miles

    Hemant, do you or anyone you know own a video camera? It would bring me a lot of joy to see your happy-dance.

  • Steve

    Private businesses can’t deny customers as they please. With few exceptions, if a business is open to the public it has to serve everyone. Some states have specific laws about that, including NYS. Or the Unruh Act in California.

    During desegregation, the decision about who to serve wasn’t left up to businesses or even religious institutions. Why should this be any different?

  • ash
  • Kevinsky

    Gay marriage has been legal here in Canada for a few years now, and frankly, any company that doesn’t want to rent facilities for a gay wedding is just throwing money away. Just a bad business decision. That’s a big market flush with cash.
    Also, if you’re keen on having religious trappings for your wedding, whether to appease family, fiancé, or a lingering sense of doubt, but you can’t/won’t use a regular church, you should call up the Unitarians. they’ll marry any combination of two people. Gay, straight, theist, atheist; and they’ll make it a nice ceremony.
    Thats what I did, and there were a few older relatives who were just happy that some kind of minister was there

  • http://about.me/andrewrwilson Andrew Wilson

    Hey, when it comes to the stuff that matters (named as next of kin, inheritance laws etc…) marriage is a legal institution, not a religious one anyway.

    If people wan’t to tag the magical FSM (bless his noodly appendages), or Allah, or Jesus in their marriage then fine. But they need to do it in their own club and stop telling everyone else how to live their life.

    I’m glad the bill has been passed though!

  • Weee

    So when will they legalise marriage to rocks, computers, and other non-human entities :D

  • Earl

    “One hundred years from now, the religionists will claim they were on the forefront of the fight for gay rights.”
    Just as
    “Christians have always supported gay rights and opposed slavery, and always believed the Earth went around the Sun”

    Tom Paine among other “founding” fathers came out against slavery long before some Christians did. Even at the time of the Civil War, there were Christians arguing that slavery was biblically correct.

  • http://www.suburbansweetheart.com Suburban Sweetheart

    As usual, I would like to take a moment to note that plenty of religious denominations will not be making use of this exemption because they fully support equal rights, including marriage, for the LGBT community. As a Reform Jew, I’m proud to be affiliated with a denomination that welcomes all – and fought like hell to see this bill passed.

  • Vystrix Nexoth

    Weee: When they ask for it.

  • Larry Meredith

    Good for them. It’s been something they’ve long since deserved. I completely agree with that religious exemption too. Let churches and businesses be dicks. Let them show everyone how bigoted and inhumane they are. Put in a religious exemption for all discrimination laws as far as I’m concerned. Religious people will discriminate unfairly whenever legally allowed. So let them do it and see how far they get. I’d like to see how approving society would be to religion if churches and businesses could refuse service to blacks, interracial couples, or anyone else they feel oh so superior to without fear of lawsuits.

  • Stogoe

    I’m concerned about the suicide-pact provision – seems to me that the religious exemptions were purposefully written to be unconstitutional, as a way to sabotage the same-sex marriage bill.

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