New York state’s Marriage Equality Act passed the state’s senate Friday night in a vote of 33-29, making the Empire State the sixth U.S. state or district to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill stalled for much of the week as state lawmakers debated the extent to which religious beliefs on homosexuality should be protected under any new state legislation. On Faith’s panel evaluated these religious exemptions this week and debated what should happen when equal rights for gay citizens and the right to religious free exercise clash. Read our full panel debate here.
Below is the amendment which defined the bill’s religious protections (emphasis mine).
S 10-b. Religious exception. 1. Notwithstanding any state, local or municipal law, rule, regulation, ordinance, or other provision of law to the contrary, a religious entity as defined under the education law or section two of the religious corporations law, or a corporation incorporated under the benevolent orders law or described in the benevolent orders law but formed under any other law of this state, or a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious corporation, or any employee thereof, being managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious corporation, benevolent order, or a not-for-profit corporation as described in this subdivision, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage. Any such refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action or result in any state or local government action to penalize, withhold benefits, or discriminate against such religious corporation, benevolent order, a not-for-profit explanation.
Nothing in this article shall limit or diminish the right, pursuant to subdivision eleven of section two hundred ninety-six of the executive law, of any religious or denominational institution or organization, or any organization operated for charitable or educational purposes, which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, to limit employment or sales or rental of housing accommodations or admission to or give preference to persons of the same religion or denomination or from taking such action as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained.
Nothing in this section shall be deemed or construed to limit the protections and exemptions otherwise provided to religious organizations under section three of article one of the constitution of the state of New York.
A refusal by a clergyman or minister as defined in section two of the religious corporations law, or society for ethical culture leader to solemnize any marriage under this subdivision shall not create a civil claim or cause of action or result in any state or local government action to penalize, withhold benefits or discriminate against such clergyman or minister.
Do you agree with the deal that was reached on same-sex marriage? Was this a victory for religious freedom as well as gay rights?