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01/03/2012

What part of 'this isn't about the religious ceremony!' do these folks not understand?!

by Jeremy Hooper

And now, pals, I present you with this bald-faced lie:

"In the few states where marriage has been redefined to include same-sex couples, various churches and ministries have already been threatened with the loss of their tax exempt status if they refused to perform ceremonies for same sex couples"

- Maryland Marriage Alliance activist Harry Jackson writing for TownHall.com

This has not happened. At all. Civil marriage equality activists are not seeking to force any religious leader to perform a ceremony -- AND HARRY JACKSON KNOWS IT!!

Now, the professional fibbers who stand in opposition to basic peace would surely point to the the Ocean Grove, NJ matter, their one example they cite in cases like this. But that is also a fib. In truth, the church-operated pavilion that they point to there was receiving a *special* tax break under New Jersey's Green Acres tax-exemption -- a program which requires compliance with state non-discrimination laws in order to qualify. The pavilion and its Methodist operators agreed to the qualification upon signing up for the special break. So what the pavilion "lost" was a distinctive tax break on a public accommodation that they wanted to restrict to only the heterosexual public. This could've happened if they had denied gays and lesbians (or any minority) from holding any sort of ceremony, not just a civil union commitment (remember: NJ doesn't have full marriage)! They didn't lose regular tax-exempt status on an actual church: They lost it on a piece of property that required this kind of accommodating access, under NJ state law, in order to get what was undeniably a special right.

So no, Harry Jackson: Don't even try this lie-detector-buster. Not only are we not forcing religious ceremonies: The vast majority of us don't have even an inkling of a desire to do so!! This is about the civil marriage license, with the individual churches, preachers, and whathaveyas having the same choices they currently have when it comes to any kind of "offending" heterosexual couple (atheist, divorced, interfaith, etc.) that may come their way. If you're going to do us (and by us, I mean Americans) the disservice of emboldening discrimination, at least have the fortitude to stick to something resembling the facts!

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