When the United States Supreme Court ruled on June 26th, 2015 that same-sex marriages were to be legally recognized and permitted in all 50 states, controversy was sure to spring up from coast to coast. Opposition to the ruling cited not only states’ rights violations but also possible affronts to religious freedoms. Recently, a group of pastors in Florida are taking steps to stand against the decision and make their beliefs known.
Currently called the Pastor Protection Act, the group is drafting and hoping to pass legislation that would protect religious individuals and institutions from any federal penalty for refusing to participate in or perform any same-sex marriage ceremonies. The fear that these clergymen have revolves around the tax exempt status of their churches. They believe that if they do not accept same-sex marriages, this status could be revoked in retaliation.
Does the Supreme Court Ruling Directly Address Religious Institutions?
Many people opposed to the proposed Pastor Protection Act claim it is simply unnecessary. In the Supreme Court’s ruling and statements regarding their decision, there is no mandate that states religious groups must perform ceremonies for same-sex couples looking to get married. The law instead targets government bodies, such as municipal judges, county clerks, and so on. Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of the justices who ruled in favor of the decision, stated that they were seeking “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”
Still, the Floridian groups seem to be more comfortable with not taking any chances. After all, it appears that their proposed legislation would not attempt to make any changes to same-sex marriage law, and would only serve to ensure their own protection as it is guaranteed in the First Amendment.
I, Broward County Divorce Attorney Lindsay A. Feldman, have been in practice for more than a decade. If you live in South Florida and have any legal concerns regarding family law, including issues revolving around the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriage, contact me today to learn how we can discuss your case and set you off on the right path.