Monday, July 14, 2008

Christian Marriage Registrar Punished For Refusing to Perform Gay "Marriages" Wins Religious Freedom Battle

A London tribunal has held that the North London council violated her religious freedom by punishing her for refusing to perform gay civil partnership ceremonies. The Daily Mail has more on her story and the decision here. The Evangelical Alliance (UK) called the decision "a triumph for the place of conscience in public duties." The unanimous decision by the Central London tribunal comes as the recent California Supreme Court decision declaring a right to same-sex marriage under the state constitution has set the stage for similar controversies in the U.S.

CLRF has been and is counsel in several cases in which Christian student organizations were denied recognition by their universities because their membership and leadership standards concerning extramarital sexual conduct were deemed to discriminate against homosexuals. Other conflicts between the recently created right to same-sex marriage and religious freedom, range from a Methodist Church sanctioned for refusing to rent its pavilion for a same sex civil union in New Jersey to Catholic Charities in Boston and San Francisco being forced to stop providing adoptions because they will not place children with same-sex couples.

As these conflicts grow more numerous in the wake of the California decision, it will be interesting to see whether American courts will follow this lead or whether, in an ironic turn four hundred years in the making, the English surpass their former colonies in defending religious freedom.