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Calif.: Clergy Can Perform, Deny Any Wedding

Calif.: Clergy Can Perform, Deny Any Wedding


In a 23-11 vote Thursday, the California state senate passed the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act. The law is intended to assuage fears that gay marriage legalization would force religious institutions to perform marriages that went against their beliefs, risking discrimination lawsuits otherwise, according to Equality California.

Introduced by Sen. Mark Leno, the bill seeks to protect religious freedom under state law and also defines civil marriages as a legal contract.

"With the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act, churches and clergy members who fear their religious views are threatened by marriage equality will have clear and solid protections under state law," Leno said in a statement.

Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser, executive director of the California Council of Churches IMPACT, said the bill, which also protects churches from losing tax-exempt status, was "essential in protecting our freedom of religion guaranteed by the first amendment." He added that because the organization represents faith communities on both sides of the issue, they support the bill because it "perfectly codifies legal protection for all our faith communities."

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Ryan Holman