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06/06/2011

NY Sen. Ball: Gays must accept religious exemptions (*that gay opponents will never accept anyway)

by Jeremy Hooper

Greg-BallThis is outrageous. In yet another state now we're seeing the issue of CIVIL marriage equality tripped up because the religious-motivated opponents of civil equality think gay people's weddings must come with exemptions that have never applied to any other kind of couple. The Daily News reports:

ALBANY - A state senator who holds a key swing vote on the bill to legalize gay marriage says he does not believe the measure will pass without specific exemptions for religious institutions.

Sen. Greg Ball (R-Putnam) said he delivered that message directly this past week to Gov.Cuomo and his aides.

Most contentious is Ball's argument that individuals and businesses - not just religious organizations - who oppose gay marriage should also be exempted from the state's discrimination laws.

"If you're going to pass a marriage bill, real religious exemptions and carveouts to protect the Catholic Church and other religious groups need to be included," Ball told the Daily News.

"Short of that, I don't think you'll see a marriage bill pass."

Read more: Gay marriage bill dead without church exemptions, says state Sen. Greg Ball [NYDN]

This is *SUCH* a straw man. Non-discrimination laws exist with or without marriage. Religious abstentions as they apply to any other kind of couple who falls outside of a particular faith purview (atheist couples, interfaith couples, divorced folks look to remarry) can and will be applied to same-sex couples. And of course there is no concern for the countless, inclusive faith-leaders whose own sense of religious freedom is being tripped up by conservative faith crowd's hijacking of this conversation.

But here's the even more pertinent point: The opposition is NEVER going to accept it anyway! Same Daily News article:

"It's not like we would support the [gay marriage] bill if it didn't have these issues, but certainly, this is one of the important side issues," said Dennis Poust, spokesman for the state Catholic Conference.
Read more: Gay marriage bill dead without church exemptions, says state Sen. Greg Ball [NYDN]

The truth is that there is never -- never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever -- going to be a religious exemption that the "protect marriage" crowd accepts as adequate. Ever. They will always find some sticking point that they will blow up and use to justify their lack of support. Always. Because there is no willingness to comply on that side, even though NOBODY on our side is really demanding ANYTHING out of the ordinary of ANY organized faith community. Groups like the state Catholic conference don't want us to be fully equal under law, and they will say and do whatever they can to turn that personal discrimination into public policy!!

We are the ones constantly forced to make concessions, which most often demand that we relinquish our right to fair and equal citizenship. NO! No more. We are either an America that values true religious freedom, or we are one that will sell out our constitution for any organized faith-motivated crowd that is organized, vocal, and willing enough to turn personally-motivated overreaches into public engagement. Right now, the balance is decidedly right-of-center. Decidedly hetero-privileged.

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