A Wonderfully Worded Marriage Equality Ballot Measure

I don’t know how Christian groups in Maryland can complain that legalizing gay marriage would violate their religious freedom when the proposed Marriage Equality ballot measure reads like this:

Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

Like I said, I don’t know how they could complain… but I’m sure they’ll find a way.

(via Joe. My. God.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Alex

    They forgot to protect their religious conscience, otherwise known as their right not to be viewed as a homophobic douchebag while being a homophobic douchebag. Oh, and can’t forget the children. Please think of the children!

    …okay, you can stop thinking about the children now, it’s getting creepy.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    I’m sure Robert W. will pop in to complain that Christian cake bakers aren’t included in the exemption.

    • Rwlawoffice

      You are correct. This attempts to limit religious expression to worship and churches only. That is not the limitation in the first amendment so even as worded it oes not protect religious liberty.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        No surprise there. It seems like you think Christian cake bakers should be able to discriminate against anyone they want as long as they claim it’s for religious reasons. Can they deny Muslims? Interracial couples?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Like I said, I don’t know how they could complain… but I’m sure they’ll find a way.

    The complaint they’ll make, which is always the complaint they make, whether they’re overt or subtle about it, is that the law doesn’t let them tell everybody else what they can and cannot do.

  • AxeGrrl

    I have no issue with most of this, except for this part:

    and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

    I’m very interested in hearing more detail on this point, especially on what falls in the “and certain related entitites” category.

    • bjsebeck

      I agree completely. I’m rather surprised that segment was allowed to be put on the ballot without further clarification.

      • Travshad

        Maryland passed a bill (signed by Gov. O’Malley) called the “Civil Marriage Protection Act”.  In that bill   a “religious organization, association, or society, or any  nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization, association, or society” is exempted from the law. 

        Opponents of marriage equality collected enough signatures to force a referendum on the bill.  People in Maryland will be voting on whether to retain or reject the law as passed by the legistature.  This is not the wording of the law, just a description for the ballot.

    • Margaret Whitestone

       As we’ve found with that Hercules place, “related entities” will mean any business owned by a person who is a bigot and chooses to blame it on their religion. 

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    But, but, then schoolchildren will be forced to learn that gay people exist!

    See?  They feel guilty about their lifestyle choice, and the only way to feel better is to make everyone else homosexual so it becomes normal.  That’s the problem with atheists.  They think we’re all just animals with nothing to live for, and truth is just subjective, so nothing really matters and the human race may as well end.

    (/Pat Robertson Voice)

  • Dale

    It’s amazing that we’re in the 21st century and an invisible sky fairy is introduced into pending legislation.

  • Thomas Farrell

    This is obviously some interesting new usage of the word “wonderful” that I wasn’t previously aware of. 

    As a gay man, marriage laws written like this one DEEPLY offend me: show me the law granting civil equality to jews or people of color or interracial couples that is 1/4 rights for the oppressed and 3/4 insurance for the bigotry of the religious. Why the hell do gay people have to take our civil rights as table scraps when everyone else gets them as a banquet?

    • eladnarra

      That’s what I thought, too, when reading it. The majority of that passage isn’t about marriage equality; it’s about trying their best to not offend the religious sensibilities of a group of people that will vote against it anyway because being gay is a “sin.”

      Ridiculous.

    • Shouldbeworkin’

      I read it differently. I think it is considered “wonderfully worded,” not because it attempts to avoid offending religious sensibilities, but that it eliminates the grounds upon which those institutions would be able to object. Unless, of course, their grounds are “I am a bigot and I want the laws of my state to reflect my bigoted views…”

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

        That was my working definition too. This wording makes it more likely for religious moderates to approve it.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      I agree… a wonderfully worded one would be “gay and lesbian couples are permitted full rights to civil marriage like everyone else.”  All these conditions to make the religious nutjobs happy is bullshit, plain and simple.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    When interracial couples were allowed to marry, did they have all of this “bigots won’t be forced to go against their bigotry and endure the presence of or in any way work with dirty interracial couples” language in the law, or is that something they made up just for the gays? 


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