With a measure that some see as more symbolic than necessary, Connecticut state lawmakers approved additional language to a law that grants gay and lesbian families the right to marry. The new amendment sets out in even starker terms exemptions designed to preserve the rights of churches that oppose marriage equality.
With family equality now a reality in Connecticut, groups that had expended effort to prevent gays and lesbians from enjoying equal family rights shifted focus in order to prevent what they viewed as a threat to the right of their own free exercise of religion.
An April 21 article in the Hartford Courant quoted a lawyer for the anti-gay Catholic lay organization The Knights of Columbus–a major contributor to the anti-marriage effort in last year’s Proposition 8 battle in California–as calling “Freedom of religion [a] fundamental right that [has] been inscribed in our federal constitution forever.”
Added the lawyer, John Droney, “It doesn’t suddenly get put on the shelf because of this new, emerging right [or marriage for gay and lesbian families].”
If the Knights of Columbus and other anti-marriage groups had had their way, family equality would not be an “emerging right” in Connecticut or anywhere; with mainstream America now embracing the idea of some form of family equality for gays and lesbians, however, the battle has shifted to the seeking of guarantees that churches and people of faith will not see their freedom of religion infringed upon.
Some see the original marriage equality legislation as having posed no threat to anyone’s freedom of worship. A follow-up article, appearing in the Hartford Courant on April 23, quoted openly gay state Rep. Beth Bye, a Democrat, who said that the new legislation was not called for to protect religious liberties, but that “there were people who felt it needed to be there.”
However, that added level of protection for churches is important in assuaging fears based on what state Rep. Bye referred to as “so much misinformation out there” about gays and lesbians, their families, and what their right to legally recognized civil marriage would mean to people of faith.
via EDGE Boston: Conn. Codifies Religions’ Exemptions to Gay Marriage
Sometimes doing something symbolic is necessary. If the legislation eases the minds of certain people of faith and GLBT citizens remain equal under law without stigmatization, that works for me. Can something similar be proposed in California?