Defending the family

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Eugene Delgaudio: "Minnesota Warning--Redefining marriage: Religious liberty is at risk"

" We here at Public Advocate would be hard pressed to make these points more eloquently. We thank Teresa Collett for her clear explanation of the problem at hand and this is why we oppose the redefinition of marriage in the law." says Eugene Delgaudio, president of Public Advocate.

Teresa Collett writes "Yesterday my friend and fellow law professor, Dale Carpenter, published an op-ed that claimed religious liberty will be unharmed if we embrace same-sex marriage ("The rites and rights of marriage," May 9). The House of Representatives has now passed a new definition of marriage, and we will see how people of faith fare."

Carpenter acknowledges that religious liberty is the first freedom mentioned in our Bill of Rights, but then suggests that our free-exercise rights are limited to a "right to worship." Instead, our federal and state constitutions guarantee the more robust free-exercise right -- the right of each American to act in accordance with his or her conscience.

Six prominent religious-liberty scholars, some of whom support same-sex marriage, warned all Minnesota senators earlier this session that the legislation passed by the House this week violates the religious-liberty protections contained in both the Minnesota and United States Constitutions. I join my voice to theirs.

Carpenter argued that if we embrace same-sex marriage, no religious leaders will be forced to recognize or solemnize marriages they do not accept. This argument is a straw man, as I testified before a Minnesota House of Representatives committee earlier this session.

Carpenter also argued that redefining marriage will not adversely affect "business owners and religiously affiliated organizations (like schools and charitable groups)." Again, we now wait to see if his words are
hollow as were those arguing that nothing would change if we failed to pass the marriage amendment last fall.

Redefining marriage creates new liability under the anti-discrimination laws for "marital discrimination" where none exists now, and will expand claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The exemption for religious organizations is so narrow that most charitable activities engaged in by people of faith will not be covered. To be protected an organization must be "operated, supervised, or controlled by" a non-profit "religious association, corporation, or society."

Many religious people join together outside their places of worship to promote faith and to care for those in need. Both St. Paul Outreach and Bible Study Fellowship are independent organizations of people who seek to express their faith in the community, and are not "operated, supervised, or controlled by" a non-profit "religious association, corporation, or society." They will not be protected.

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