Churches Making Sure You Know They’re Anti-Gay Marriage So You Won’t Sue Them

anglican-church-gay-signAh, progress.

When the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and Proposition 8, many saw it as a sign that the times they were a-changin’. Others saw it as a sign that the times they were a-changin’ and they were not a-ready to change with them. Which brings us to today’s (first) story of religious intolerance. Some churches, anticipating a lawsuit down the line from sue-happy same-sex couples, are changing their bylaws to clearly reflect their Biblical views on marriage.

Airline Baptist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana — when not flying the holy skies — offers Zumba classes and other public use of its facilities. Realizing that that was as gay as they wanted to get, the church changed its rental policy to allow only male-female wedding-related events.

In the recent past, gay couples have thrown a litigious fit over being denied — often on the basis of religion — wedding industry services (i.e. cakes, flowers, reservation halls). Of course, those businesses often have statewide nondiscrimination clauses they’re violating, but the Constitution is pretty clear on all that religious freedom jazz.

“We have some gay couples that attend our church. What happens when they ask us to do their wedding?” pondered Dean Inserra, head pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida. “What happens when we say no? Is it going to be treated like a civil rights thing?”

The fear comes from churches that rent out their facilities to the general public who could face problems if they refuse to rent to gay couples, said Eric Rassbach, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Rassbach claims that it’s important for churches to enshrine their religion-based discrimination in writing so a court doesn’t see it as an attempt after the fact to cover up anti-gay sentiment. The Becket Fund is not pushing for a bylaws change, but even those attorneys that are say no church has actually faced a lawsuit for turning away same-sex weddings. But why let a nonexistent threat get in the way of your irrational fear, right?

“They seem to be under the impression that there is this huge movement with the goal of forcing them to perform ceremonies that violate their freedom of religion,” Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, told the AP. “If anyone tried to force a church to perform a ceremony against their will, I would be the first person to stand up in that church’s defense.”

We’re assuming a “Straights Only” sign hanging on a cross outside the door is the next logical step.

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  • LubbockGayMale

    So this church welcomes their gay members and their tithes, but won’t allow them to marry in the building? Talk about two-faced!

  • Dakotahgeo

    LOLOL… ya jus’ gotta love dem “Christian” churches, lolol. Who would want a sacred marriage ceremony in a “church” like that, anyway? It’s to laugh! No more tax exemptions for any churches who espouse such silly pandering!

  • tdx3fan

    @LubbockGayMale: Well said! I can not imagine giving my money to any church that did not support my lifestyle. As it is, my partner and I go to a pro-gay church, and we still restrict our tithe for missions and outreach only.

  • ncman

    where do they get the idea that anyone could ever sue them? ALL churches have the right to deny any church ceremony to anyone. They don’t have to marry straights or gays. They don’t have to baptize anyone. They don’t have to provide communion to anyone. Has the Catholic church ever been sued for not performing a marriage ceremony for a previously divorced straight couple? No, the have not. And, same sex ceremonies are no different.

    They are liable to get sued if they currently rent out their facilities to the general public to hold ceremonies or receptions and now refuse to rent the facilities to a same-sex couple. But, that is legally as is should be. That’s just standard public accommodation law.

  • Deepdow

    Why are churches still not paying taxes? Fucking astonishing.

  • Caleb in SC

    @ncman: You are entirely correct. This needs to be seen for what it is — a way of instilling fear into their congregations so that the money keeps flowing in. Nothing more.

    The First Amendment takes care of any litigation concerns these churches may have. The ONLY time the federal government has affected a church’s policies/teaching was when the Utah Territory wanted to become a state. The federal government imposed a condition that polygamous marriages would not be legal in the state. Miraculously, the Mormon Church received a “revelation” that polygamous marriages were no longer part of church doctrine.

  • Mr. E. Jones

    Is it going to be treated like a civil rights thing?

    God forbid. Imagine if everyone were equal. The horror!

  • Cam

    Is the author of this post kidding me when he writes “In the recent past, gay couples have thrown a litigious fit over being denied”????

    I get it that he wants to sound clever, but come on. Litigious fit over being denied??? Do you mean lawfully suing when their civil rights are being violated?

  • 1EqualityUSA

    “Straights only” signs would help us figure out which churches to avoid. The Becket Fund is stirring up irrational fears that have no base in reality. If they cannot win legally, they can muck up the waters so turbidly that dummies cannot recognize a non-issue when it’s presented to them. Princeton’s Robert P. George, the founder of hate group, NOM, was appointed by John Weeping Boehner to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Robbie P. George is a Becket Fund Board of Directors member. Robby G. is making sure his special brand of “love” is spread throughout the globe. It doesn’t surprise me that they are fanning flames that amount to nothing.

  • 2eo

    @LubbockGayMale: There is no face, and no denomination of christianity welcoming to us for any other reason than money. They hate us, to a man they hate us.

    Centuries of hate and extermination isn’t undone by the quest for equality.

    Everyone disenfranchised by god and willing to explore avenues other than blind faith should be welcomed with open arms to the real world. We do fine here, mostly.

  • rand503

    What’s funny is that the Becket Fund is actually quite wrong. If you clearly advertise that you are going to discriminate against a group, and that group is protected by non-discrimination laws, then your bylaws are actaully going to hurt you in court, not help.

    So, if a gay couple lives in a jurisdiction that protects them from discrimination, and they rent a facility owned by the church, and the church makes it clear that they are going to discriminate against gays, then they gay couple may sue them for discrimination. And at the trial, the judge will look at their now revised bylaws and say, hey, you clearly state that you intend to violate the law.

    Of course, no gay couple can sue a church to force it to perform a same sex ceremony of any kind. So again, the new language is of no value to the church.

  • doug105

    “We have some gay couples that attend our church. What happens when they ask us to do their wedding?

    Maybe you can help them find a nice deprogramer instead so they stop coming there.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @2eo: Please pardon 2eo, LubbockGayMale… he has either had a very poor, twisted upbringing or no upbringing at all! The majority of people KNOW that NO church can run without money to pay the bills! 2eo has shown, without a doubt that hate begets hate and he/she/it has done a fine job of promoting hate wherever he goes and whenever he can! Suffice it to say that GLBT-supportive churches (and many other churches) are more interested in providing GLBT programs that strengthen the GLBT Community than the other way around, AND the number of these churches are GROWING… you don’t have to put up with hate from anyone or any entity anymore. The conservative extremist churches know this and are at a loss to fight this wonderful presence of peace that people are finding. One final word: 2eo, I feel sorry for you and your life. Obviously one or both of your parents took turns dropping you on your head while a baby. Take your hate out on them… if you even had parents! You sound like TOTAL loser to normal people! Get a life! (Preferably not a used one!)

  • Callum

    @Cam: Would you mind clarifying the rights of a business to choose (read: discriminate) who to serve and not serve? Being British, I always see the headlines on here – “Cake company/hotel/other business refuses to serve gay couple”, and I wonder what the legislation around that is in the States. Is there any form of federal law enshrining non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation?

    Here in the UK, we passed the Equality Act 2006 (amended 2007 in relevant ways, re-introduced 2010), which prohibits discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities or services on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, etc. Do Americans have anything like that?

  • Jonty Coppersmith


    No federal law in the US to protect LGBT’s from discrimination. The only federal law that I’m aware of the addresses LGBT’s directly is the federal hate crimes law which might increase the sentence if the assault/crime was done specifically out of anti-gay malice.

  • Callum

    @Jonty Coppersmith: Wow. So a business can legitimately refuse to serve people purely on the grounds of sexual orientation?
    That kinda seems unthinkable here. It happens, but it’s not something you can get away with.

  • yaoming

    Can a church declare in their bylaws or where ever that it won’t marry mixed-race couples? I doubt it, so how can they say they won’t marry same-sex couples? They’re going to have to, eventually, unless there are some out there still discriminating on the basis of race and getting away with it.

  • ncman

    @Callum: It all depends on state and local laws. There are many states and localities that do have laws protecting the LGBT community. But, there is no overall federal law for protection.

  • ncman

    @yaoming: A church can have any rules it wants to about marriage ceremonies. The Catholic church does not approve of divorce. And, it legally refuses to perform a marriage for any couple (yes, even a straight couple where both are of the same race) if one or both members of the couple is divorced. The government cannot and does not ever try to tell a church what their own rules can be for performing any religious ceremony. Not marriage, not baptism, not funerals, not communion, not any religious ceremony.

  • Jonty Coppersmith


    I believe 21 out of the 50 states have state laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but if you’re unfortunate enough to live in one of the other 29 states you’re out of luck. I’m in NC. My employer could call me into the office and call me any epithet you can imagine and say my kind isn’t welcomed, you’re fired/sacked. In that case I have no legal recourse at all. Any restaurant or other business could post a sign saying they don’t serve known homosexuals- again no legal recourse. Any landlord can refuse to rent to or either he/she can evict purely based on sexual orientation- again that is perfectly legal in 29 states.

  • Bob

    So your Pastor is good enough for you to go listen to every week, but not so good that any of your money can go toward his or her salary?

    You sit in a building for church that is heated in winter, an perhaps air-conditioned in summer (I know not all churches have air conditioning) but you don’t contribute to that cost.

    You drive to church and park in a parking lot, the cost of which is entirely covered by OTHER people who attend your church.

    The roof doesn’t leak, the secretary types the bulletins and they make copies of them, they have hymnals, there are projects and materials for Sunday School, if you live in the north someone has to shovel the sidewalks when it snows, your church has a phone and probably a computer to conduct business and keep the books, and on and on and on….

    But YOUR money only goes to mission and outreach. I don’t have a lot of information about you or your church. I don’t know what you consider “pro-gay” or what you are afraid your church might do with your money. But from someone who has been involved in church leadership for more than 2 decades…keep your money and/or find a different church. It’s not fair for you to restrict your gift while other people pay for the things that keep the doors open.

    I haven’t been everywhere but I have been around the block and know a LOT of Pastors and church leaders and I have NEVER EVER heard of a church that has a mechanism in place to allow for someone to restrict their tithe. Tithing by definition is money that is given to the church without restriction, the offering plate comes by and you put it in, usually in an envelope that indicates who you are by a number or something discreet so you get a statement of what you give for tax purposes. In addition sometimes people give other offerings for special purposes, at my church we collect for homeless teens, our local food pantry, disaster relief etc., in which case people designate on their check or envelope what that money is for. If you only give for specific purposes and you consistently designate exactly where your money should go then you are NOT tithing. And you are NOT supporting your church.

    Why don’t you trust them? Why don’t you think it’s fair for you to chip in for the cost of running the church?

  • Bob

    @yaoming: Churches CAN refuse to marry couples of different races, and indeed some do. Churches CANNOT be forced to perform a religious ceremony that violates their religious beliefs. That’s what religious freedom means. If that is offensive to you then your recourse is to NOT attend that church and NOT give them any money.

  • Callum

    @Jonty Coppersmith: …bloody hell. Surely this is a fairly major issue to get around before people even try and tackle an issue so deeply-rooted as marriage?

  • ncman

    @Callum: It’s even more complicated. Because in some of those 29 states without protections there are some local jurisdictions (counties, cities, towns etc) that do have protections based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. So, it is possible to live inside a state that doesn’t have statewide protection and still be protected in you locality.

  • Bob

    @Cam: @Cam: Civil marriage is a RIGHT, one that we are winning in more and more states all the time and rightly so. But a religious ceremony performed in a church is NOT a right. I am gay, I work hard for marriage equality, but I hope if someone ever sues a church or a pastor for refusing to marry them in a religious ceremony that a judge throws them (physically if necessary) out of court.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Bob, many church leaders tangle themselves up in politics. I hope every one that does loses their tax exempt status. I will work for this once we win equality from Coast to Coast. If the money tithed doesn’t go to pedophilia law suits, it gets funneled into political spheres. Churches are dabbling in politics. The Church will suffer for this unholy alliance, as compromise will no longer come to the church through discovery, but rather political whim. If the Church had talented teachers to spread the Word, passing futile, man-made laws through worldly political might, laws that stand to be over-turned in time, would be seen as an unwise use of resources. The church could win hearts, but not using this avenue of hateful oppression and political twisting. A transformed heart is way more powerful than temporal laws passed under political pressure. Any Pastor, Priest, or religious leader, tugging on the coattails of Senators, have little faith in their own Father’s Word. Religion, tainted by the political machine, is faithless futility. Politics, tainted by the religious machine, is oppression and usury. Christ didn’t tug on Herod the Great and say, “Hey, coerce these people through man-made laws on my behalf.” Transformation is set apart. It will not be found in a legislative body. It will not be found in a tithe that is tainted by politics. You ask, “Why don’t you trust them?”

  • ncman

    @yaoming: You do understand that no one actually needs to get married in a church. Atheists get married all the time without any involvement of a church.

  • manjoguy

    “Which brings us to today’s (first) story of religious intolerance…” Okay, how about religious freedom? People don’t have religious freedom anymore?

  • ncman

    @manjoguy: where do you see any elimination of religious freedom in this story? No religion is ever forced to perform any ceremony they don’t want to perform.

  • Whup-Ass Master

    I agree with the churches’ (wide) stance here. I’m all for quarantining the bigoted stretch-pants crowd to their hateful little “houses of god.” I’ll spend my gay dollars elsewhere, thank you. Besides, has anyone ever been inside a baptist home? That’s some tacky shit. No, you may not host my gay wedding. Suffer.

  • ncman

    @Whup-Ass Master: do you understand that NO ONE can legally force a church to perform any ceremony that they don’t want to perform. Period. End of story. So, just what “stance” of the church is it that you are agreeing with that isn’t already the law of the land and agreed to by everyone else?

Comments are closed.