NY Post Pushes Myth That Marriage Equality Is A Threat to Religious Freedom
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The New York Post used three examples of anti-discrimination law violations to scapegoat marriage equality as an infringement upon religious freedom.
In a Tuesday editorial, the Post suggested that marriage equality might undermine religious freedom by highlighting instances where religious institutions supposedly had to violate their beliefs in order to accommodate same-sex couples. From the Post:
The answer is that without clear conscience protections, we will see more religious institutions and individual citizens forced to violate their beliefs or be driven off the public square because their moral views have been deemed officially bigoted.
These fears are not hypothetical. In New York, Yeshiva University was forced to accept same-sex couples in its dorms for married students. In New Jersey, a Methodist association was sued after it would not allow a lesbian couple to use its boardwalk pavilion for a civil union ceremony. In Boston, the Catholic church was forced to get out of adoption because it would not place children with same-sex couples. Without clear conscience protections, we will see more, on everything from access to government facilities to licensing or accreditation.
All of these examples, however, resulted from violations of non-discrimination laws. Yeshiva University was sued on the basis that its housing policy for married couples discriminated against gay and lesbian students who at the time were denied the right to marry. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, only Yeshiva's rabbinical school is religious while the rest of the university is "a secular institution open to students of all religions." The New York Court of Appeals found that Yeshiva's policy was a threat to New York's discrimination laws because its policy of providing housing to married couples had a "disparate impact on homosexual students, because they cannot marry and thus cannot live with their partners in student housing."
The Post's second example is equally as irrelevant to marriage equality. The New Jersey Methodist Church was found to have violated the state's Law Against Discrimination when it refused to allow a same-sex couple to celebrate their civil union in a pavilion owned by the church. In doing so, the church violated the requirements of their "Green Acres" program tax exempt status. One condition of the "Green Acres" tax exemption was that a pavilion the Methodist church owned was to remain "open to the public on an equal basis." Though the church lost its tax exempt status under the "Green Acres" program, it was able to replace its "Green Acres" tax exemption with a similar religious exemption, which allowed the church to continue engaging in discriminatory practices. Currently, New Jersey does not have a marriage equality law.
Finally, the Catholic Charities of Boston were not forced out of facilitating adoptions but instead voluntarily stopped providing public adoption services after Massachusetts' four Catholic Bishops found out that gay parents had been adopting children through the service. The Catholic Charities were free to continue discriminating against same-sex couples in private adoptions, but doing so in public adoptions would have violated a 1989 anti-discrimination law because they received public funds. Even the former board chairman of the Catholic Charities, Peter Meade, spoke out against a Maine anti-equality organization's attempt to paint the Catholic Charities case a violation of religious freedom.