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-City in Kansas May Force Churches to Host Gay Weddings?

by Dr. D ~ April 25th, 2012

Steeple of St. James Catholic Church in Chicag...

       Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From The Inquisitr:

Hutchinson City, KN. – Hutchinson City Kansas is about to jump head first into the marriage equality debate.  The Hutchinson City Council will consider adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes in the city’s human relations code. This would effectively force churches and other houses of worship to rent their halls to gay couples to perform and celebrate weddings.

According to the statute to be voted on no church will be allowed to rent their hall to the general public while discriminating against a “against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party.”

Meryl Dye, a spokesperson for the Human Relations Commission confirmed that churches would be subject to the ordinance,

“They would not be able to discriminate against gay and lesbian or transgender individuals,” Dye said. “That type of protection parallels to what you find in race discrimination. If a church provides lodging or rents a facility they could not discriminate based on race. It’s along that kind of thinking.”

<Read the rest>

Response: Weddings are held in churches all across America and normally a fee is charged for use of the facilities usually to cover the upkeep and cleaning. Every local church normally has their own set of rules and conditions for use of their facilities. 

According to the city ‘spokesperson for the Human Relations Commission,’ under the ordinance churches would be treated like a commercial enterprise and could be forced to allow their facilities to be used by groups or for purposes that are contrary to their beliefs and teachings. Specifically the ordinance seems to be targeting Biblical churches that believe in traditional marriage and forbid gay marriages.

This will not stand. I believe that the ‘spokesperson’ is wrong and if the ordinance is passed, eventually it would be tested in court and churches would receive an exemption. Otherwise the US Constitution no longer means a thing.

Religion is also part of any laws on discrimination but Churches are always considered exempt. Can you imagine a Catholic Church being forced to host an anti-Catholic Conference, a Baptist Church forced to rent their facilities to an atheist organization, or a Muslim Mosque forced to have a Jewish Pro-Israel fundraiser?

The ‘Spokesperson’ here obviously believes that gay rights in this case should trump freedom of religion. There are many in the country who now feel that way including some in the current presidential administration. However, I don’t believe that they would currently be successful in court considering that religion has its own specific amendment.

This is not the first and it will not be the last. Here’s a post about a Methodist Camp in new Jersey facing a similar ruling. The war between rights is on and religious freedom may lose out in the future when activist judges ignore the Constitution for what they believe is the ‘greater good.’            *Top

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6 Responses to -City in Kansas May Force Churches to Host Gay Weddings?

  1. Brian

    Over at the liberal mouthpiece “media matters”, there is an article that denounces this news about a proposed Hutchinson, KS ordinance as another alleged right-wing lie. Media Matters claims that it would not actually force churches to host homosexual weddings because:

    “Religious based groups, non-profit institutions controlled by religious associations or societies and non-profit private clubs that are not open to the public are exempt from the requirements of Chapter 3 now and would continue to be exempt should the proposed amendment become law. There is an exception to this exemption, if any of these groups open their services to the general public.”

    So, as I read that, Media Matters says “no, a church is not required to host a gay wedding, as long as services are not open to the general public”. Well, all church services AS A MATTER OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE are open to the public. A major goal of any Christian church is to open its doors to the public, invite the non-churched population into the church and, hopefully, bring these people to faith in Christ.

    As I read the blog at Media Matters, and the supporting documentation from the Hutchinson Civil Rights organization, on order to avoid the impact of these new rules a church would have to (a) only hold weddings in which both bride and groom were members of the church; (b) only allow church members to attend the wedding; and (c) only allow church members to attend worship services and other church events.

    In a Baptist church (and this is also true of other Evangelical/Charismatic and Pentecostal groups), children are not members of the church, and do not typically join until adolescence. Thus, even allowing the attendance of the congregation’s children would be enough to create a ‘public’ event, which would be subject to the requirements of the new ordinance

    And why stop this analysis at marriages? What if a homosexual couple shows up at a Baptist church and announces “we want to join”. Can the church reject practicing homosexuals who apply for membership? I am not sure they can, under this proposed ordinance.

    Brian

  2. Brian

    As of May 15, Hutchinson Kansas has adopted a municipal ordinance which will prohibit discrimination against homosexuals by any organization, including churches, which is “open to the public”.

    Brian

  3. Dr. D

    Brian,
    A lot of folks said that this would never happen, others said that no one should worry since churches will ultimately be found to be exempt.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out since the Human Relations Commission spokesperson was so adamant that churches would be subject to the ordinance. It would seem to me that a test battle of competing ‘rights’ is on the agenda in the city of Hutchinson.

  4. Karla

    I live in Hutchinson and this is not true. In reality, the ordinance includes specific exemptions for religious organizations that don’t offer their services to the general public. According to an official Hutchinson Human Relations Commission (HRC) FAQ Sheet (which Starnes even links to in his article):

    Religious based groups, non-profit institutions controlled by religious associations or societies and non-profit private clubs that are not open to the public are exempt from the requirements of Chapter 3 now and would continue to be exempt should the proposed amendment become law. There is an exception to this exemption, if any of these groups open their services to the general public.

    For example, if a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party. If the church only rents the building to their parishioners, they can continue to do so.

  5. Dr. D

    Karia,
    The problem comes in the interpretation of ‘open to the public.’ Nearly all church services are ‘open to the public’ and most independent non-denominational community and charismatic churches do not have or maintain formal membership lists.

    None of the churches I have been involved with in ministry in the last 20 years maintain a formal membership list. So how and to whom would the exemption apply?

    Most church weddings may have one church member involved or maybe one set of parents. Rarely are both the Bride and Groom members of the host church. Also, most of the guests and their families may not be members. Again, none of the weddings I have attended or been part of in the last 30 or so years were limited to only members of the host church.

    So a lot depends upon how the provision is interpreted and administered.

  6. -Will Churches be Forced to Host Same-Sex Marriages? | ANSWERS For The Faith

    […] they may be forced to allow their church buildings to be used for same-sex marriages. At least one Kansas town was considering a statute that would force churches that rent out their facilities to host same-sex ceremonies. Also a Methodist camp facility has […]

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