Religion | Utah

Utah Legislator Introduces Law Exempting Churches From Blessing Gay Marriages

The most popular talking point repeated by anti-LGBT conservatives who oppose marriage equality (among other civil rights) is that it will erode "religious freedom" by forcing places of worship to hold same-sex wedding ceremonies.

AndereggRepublican Utah State Representative Jacob Anderegg (pictured) has introduced state constitutional amendment HR1 which explicitly says churches will never be forced to participate in a same-sex marriages.

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

[Anderegg said,] "The truth is, the main reason I’m proposing this is that I just want people to relax. If they know they have their federal religious guarantees in writing, I hope they will just relax."

Even Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, who is gay and was married after the ban was struck down, does not oppose the idea. "I don’t think anybody wants to be married by somebody that doesn’t want to marry them," he said, adding it could help end worries and fighting.

However, Dabakis says he would support the amendment only if it were changed to require a civil marriage first for everyone, followed by a possible religious ceremony to help make clear that "civil marriage is a constitutional right."

As it stands, the proposed amendment reads:

"This resolution proposes to amend the Utah Constitution to: prevent a religious organization, association, or society, or individual acting in a role connected with a religious organization, association, or society, from being required or compelled to solemnize, officiate in, or recognize a marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of their right of conscience or their free exercise of religion."

Continue reading AFTER THE JUMP...

As written, it would exempt church-affliated businesses from having to publicly accommodate same-sex couples for any part of their nuptials — including photo shoots of their engagement or the reception after the wedding.

Anderegg says that he began working on amendment more than a year ago and that Utah's recent legalization of marriage equality hastened its introduction into the legislature. If approved, Utahan citizens would vote on the amendment during the next general election.

The amendment may face dubious prospects however in light of the state attorney general's pledge to "spend whatever it takes" to defend Utah's anti-gay amendment.

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  1. How many times has a heterosexual couple sued a church to force them to perform a marriage ceremony? NEVER

    The Catholic church REFUSES to perform marriages for people who have been divorced. Has any hetero couple ever sued them to force them to perform a wedding? NO, NEVER

    Why don't people understand that a church already has the right to refuse to perform a marriage for any couple for any reason?

    Posted by: anon | Jan 2, 2014 8:50:18 AM

  2. Seems too broad. Officiate or solemnize? Fine. Recognize? No. If it's a marriage that's legal in that state, then everyone has to recognize it from a legal perspective, whether they choose to perform those kinds of weddings or not. Some churches don't perform marriages for divorced people, but legally they must recognize the union. Same thing.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Jan 2, 2014 8:53:29 AM

  3. I do not see why there is this hysteria on the part of religious groups, since nobody was going to force them to perform or recognize people's love anyway. they never WERE going to be forced to perform same sex weddings. As usual, total paranoia reigns with religion

    Posted by: Nelson | Jan 2, 2014 9:01:40 AM

  4. This is totally unnecessary legislation. Typical of representatives today, don't work on what needs to be done, rather create a distraction.

    Posted by: robertL | Jan 2, 2014 9:02:11 AM

  5. In time that law will get sued and found to be unconstitutional. And all that will be left will be the historical record of the Jim Crows of the gay era.

    Posted by: Gast | Jan 2, 2014 9:06:39 AM

  6. It reads as being too broadly written to give, say, a "Mormon baker" or "Mormon photographer" the right to opt out of baking a wedding cake or photographing a wedding for a gay couple. I know, why would the couple want someone who felt this way to work for them in the first place, but....

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Jan 2, 2014 9:11:20 AM

  7. Religious churches must recognize civil marriages as all citizens have to do under the law.
    We don't want "religious marriages" as part of equal rights; we want legal marriages as part of our equal treatment.
    What the delusionals do behind their church doors is their business.
    But the butcher and the baker must be subject to the law that civil marriages must be recognized as the law of the land. They have no conscience clause which allows them to disobey equal treatment. and they cannot be allowed to discriminate on the basis of medieval obsessions.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jan 2, 2014 9:22:15 AM

  8. The Milkman nails the problem with this amendment. The Catholic church may not perform same sex marriages, but it must recognize the marriage of the doctor and her wife when they are applying for benefits as employees of a catholic owned hospital.

    Posted by: DC Insider | Jan 2, 2014 9:24:08 AM

  9. I propose an amendment that if it's raining outside you are exempt from going outside unless you want to carry an umbrella.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 2, 2014 9:37:35 AM

  10. " a role connected with a religious organization..." can be interpreted as member, believer, supporter or donor, fan or fanatic, hired muscle or even hitman.

    So when someone comes to firebomb your house to protest your marriage it's okay because a church sent them to do it. Ninety percent of mormons might think that's going too far, but crazy happens at the margins.

    Posted by: Hansel Currywurst | Jan 2, 2014 9:41:30 AM

  11. Too broad, plus it's unnecessary to protect a church's right to refuse to bless any marriage.

    I'm guessing in Utah the Mormon church has also infected other areas that generally provide public services, such as hospitals. Under this law a Mormon owned hospital could refuse to recognize any legal marriage.

    Posted by: AdamTh | Jan 2, 2014 9:46:16 AM

  12. Blessing? More like a curse as far as I can tell.....

    Posted by: patrick | Jan 2, 2014 10:37:09 AM

  13. "As written, it would exempt church-affliated businesses from having to publicly accommodate..."

    Beware of this. It isn't just about us. This is about the expansion of religious rights over all other rights. It needs to be stopped.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 2, 2014 1:14:08 PM

  14. Yes, this is a too-broad bill meant to protect bigots in their businesses.

    But I can't get too upset. I've still got a broad smile seeing gay marriages in Utah!


    Posted by: TonyJazz | Jan 2, 2014 1:42:48 PM

  15. This is a right churches already have. Passing such a law implies that somehow they would get an even broader privilege.

    Posted by: Gay Guy | Jan 2, 2014 8:38:18 PM

  16. I agree with those who believe this is too broad. It seems like an attempt to give business oweners a way out of serving the public based on their beliefs. It allows anti-gay segregation in the public square, using religion as the excuse for discrimination.

    Posted by: Dan | Jan 2, 2014 9:22:15 PM

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