Comments about ‘Churches changing bylaws after gay marriage ruling to try to avoid lawsuits’

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Published: Saturday, Aug. 24 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

One difficulty that now arises, especially in light of he recent developments in the NM case, is that a lot of this litigation forces churches to become more closed to the LGBT community. Litigious "rights" seekers are inadvertently closing doors to their cause. Instead of churches being willing to accept people in the community on face value, it causes an aversion to the LGBT community as a whole and churches will begin shutting their doors to such people in order to protect their important right to religious exercise. I also do have to wonder why a gay or lesbian couple would even desire to be married in a church that does not accept their lifestyle.

Salt Lake City, UT

I have been of the opinion for a while now that churches would do well to totally remove themselves from the marriage business. In the case specifically of the LDS Church, I do have to wonder if just performing sealings after a civil marriage (for legal purposes only) would be a nice route to protect infringement upon the LDS temples by legal battles. Go get a marriage license, have a judge marry you, and then go to the temple and get sealed. (This would naturally require a policy chance on behalf of the LDS Church).

Let the government and civil procedure bear the entire onus of dealing with all of these different litigations regarding marriage and same sex couples being denied perceived rights. Let the churches deal with helping people draw nearer to God.

mid-state, TN

@Vladhagen --

"One difficulty that now arises, especially in light of he recent developments in the NM case, is that a lot of this litigation forces churches to become more closed to the LGBT community. "

Nobody is forcing the churches to become more closed to anybody. However, this litigation may very well induce the churches to be more HONEST, at least.

Their new bylaws are now honestly setting down the principles they have been operating under for years. Specifically: "We here in the church may pretend to love and accept you, but we actually believe that you are less worthy than the rest of us. Go get married somewhere else -- we're too good for you."

Honesty is the best policy, right?

mid-state, TN

btw -- It's important to remember that many religious people SUPPORT gay marriage. "Pro-civil rights" does NOT mean "anti-religion".

Here's a partial list of denominations that perform gay marriages or bless same-sex unions, or allow each diocese or minister to decide independently. Not a complete list, but it'll give you an idea of the widespread support for equal rights amongst the religious:

Episcopalian polities
--Anglican Church of Canada
--Episcopal Church of US
--Old Catholic, Reformed Catholic, and Liberal Catholic Churches

Lutheran and Reformed Churches
--Church of Sweden
--Church of Denmark
--Church of Iceland
--Danish Church of Argentina
--Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada
--United Church of Canada
--Protestant Church of Germany
--Protestant Church of the Netherlands
--Church of Norway
--Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

--Presbyterian Church USA

Congregational polities
--Quakers -- in several countries
--United Church of Christ
--Canadian Unitarian Council
--Unitarian Universalist Association
--Metropolitan Community Church
--Mennonite Church of the Netherlands
--Affirming Pentecostal Church International

Mixed-polity and other polities
--Swedenborgian Church of North America
--Uniting Church of Australia
--United Church of Canada
--New Apostolic Church

An LDS offshoot -- Community of Christ

--Reform Judaism
--Reconstructionist Judaism
--Conservative Judaism (USA)

--Muslims for Progressive Values

Tooele, UT

"Critics, including some gay Christian leaders, argue that the changes amount to a solution looking for a problem."

- No, it is churches recognizing the fact they no longer have an advocate in the courts or in the government, so they're choosing to change policy before being forced to do so.

"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," said Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit that provides support for gay Christians and their friends and families and encourages churches to be more welcoming.

- That's because, THERE IS a movement to do just that. In many people's eyes, separation of church and state is a one way street. How many times have we heard people shout, "Freedom of Religion means Freedom from Religion?"

"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."

- Maybe in 2013, but in ten years from now? Five years? Doubt it.

Salt Lake City, UT

Litigation is pretty close to what we would call force. When you act litigiously, you act with force. Ergo, churches are being forced to alter their policies about the altar, fearing that if they do not, they will be sued.
As for honesty, you have a point. Yes, some churches honestly do not believe that homosexuality is appropropriate. My church has never pretended otherwise. The glory of America is that (for now at least) if you do not agree with the honest assessment of religion regarding your lifestyle, you can just go to a different medium of worship. Note that I am not suing the LGBT community to force them to attend my church. Do I hate people who are gay? No. There is no evidence to support that whatsoever. Understand that my expressing the view that I do not think that the LGBT community should use the courts as a big stick to strike down people who do not agree with them is not the same as hating people who are gay. Do not place a hate crime in my mouth.

mid-state, TN

@Vladhagen --

"Litigation is pretty close to what we would call force. "

Nobody has ever sued a US church to force them to perform gay church weddings. Ergo, no force.

And yes, I'm aware that churches in other countries HAVE been sued. Guess what -- those were STATE churches. Now aren't you glad that we have separation of church and state here?

"Note that I am not suing the LGBT community to force them to attend my church. "

Note that the LGBT community is not suing you either.

This is a "cure" for an imaginary illness. But if these guys are so insecure that rewriting their bylaws will actually make them feel better, I'm not stopping them.

Cache county, USA

You will hear us, you will except us. When you do, we will go away. That's the only reason for all this.

Anderson Island, WA

Frankly, from any rational legal ground, that these Churches trying to imply that they are changing their bylaws out of litigation fear is nothing more than a PR stunt to sway public opinion. No one in this country has EVER forced ANY church to perform a marriage that it doesn't want to, nor admit ANY person as a member that it doesn't want to, nor is there the slightest shred of credibility that they would ever be forced to. This is nothing more than a Chicken Little publicity campaign.

Samuel B Martineau
Bountiful, UT


You argue that when churches choose to not perform marriages for gay couples they are saying

"We here in the church may pretend to love and accept you, but we actually believe that you are less worthy than the rest of us. Go get married somewhere else -- we're too good for you."

Some thoughts-

1. Believing that another person sins does is not the same thing as hate. It is also not the same thing as pride. I think that we would agree that greed is bad right? Do you hate those who you perceive to be greedy? Do you think that you are better than them? Might you even still be able to love such people? Would you think yourself outrageously judgmental if you told your children not to be greedy?

2. So we have a basic disagreement. You don't think that living a homosexual lifestyle is sinful. I do. Why the animus? We can disagree without painting each other as monsters right? If you are honest, don't you feel that your post in favor of tolerance is a little intolerant?

Salt Lake City, UT

Of course they will try and force churches to marry gays. It's only a matter of time before people are thrown in jail for their beliefs, it has happened in the past and will happen again because we have given up our freedom for "benefits".

Blue AZ Cougar
Chandler, AZ


I agree with your point on the differences of civil and religious marriage ceremonies. Let people get a civil marriage from the courts of the land, and let churches retain their right to have whatever additional ceremonies they desire (whether that be a temple wedding or some other kind of ceremony).

I'm curious how it works in other countries -- i.e. I have to believe that the LDS church might not possess the CIVIL authority to marry people in every country it has members (I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised). Does anyone know how the church operates internationally with respect to marriage? Is it viewed as legally binding (in a civil sense) or is it solely considered a religious rite?

Lastly, I won't be surprised if we see a church sued in the next few years for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding. Though the LGBT movement has always asserted they would not pursue that course, it depends on the course of action of one same-sex couple (i.e. there is no LGBT association or organization that can prevent a couple from suing).


I think this IS a solution looking for a problem. If churches stick to their own principles and don't solicit weddings just for money, keeping with services for their own congregants then they would have no problem. I know in many protestant and Catholic ones, there is money to be made "renting" facilities for non congregants. Here is where the line blurs. For example the cathedral of St Louis and the old basilica are used for weddings and for collecting money for the atmosphere. In this way, they become for that period, nothing more than romantic or elegant venues for a wedding if anyone can afford it. So they then run the risk of getting involved in legal situations they could avoid simply by providing services for their own people claiming membership within that venue. Let the wedding halls handle the rest.

Anderson Island, WA


Not tolerating intolerance is not intolerance; Tolerance of intolerance IS supporting intolerance.

Using religious dogma to attempt to circumvent civil law is illegal. And it is bigotry by it's very definition. It is transparent that many so-called Christians cannot admit they are being intolerant or bigoted, but they are in serious denial and using flawed logic to support their denial. Essentially you are saying "why can't you tolerate my belief that gay people are not entitled to equal treatment under civil law?"


Gotta love your vague Chicken Little warnings of dire consequences. Show us examples in the USA relevant to this discussion to support your ridiculous prognostications or concede that they are totally without merit.

The Economist
Newport, PA

Churches can not be sued for choosing who they want to marry or not marry. This was a waste of my time to read.

Churches can be sued if they have publicly used property and don't want to allow that property, such as an open pavillion, to be used to marry a gay couple.

Church marriages are about the only remaining combination of church and state.


"It's only a matter of time before people are thrown in jail for their beliefs, it has happened in the past and will happen again because we have given up our freedom for "benefits".

You mean like when 1 church makes the rules & imprisons others not like them? You mean like the Spanish Inquisition or the Christian Crusades? Like that?

Samuel B Martineau
Bountiful, UT


You just made the argument that intolerance is not intolerance and then accused me of using "flawed logic."

Also, there is nothing "illegal" about the constitutional protections of the first amendment whether you call it "using religious dogma to circumvent civil law" or no.

Finally, I don't think that you answered my argument. I argue, essentially, that everyone has beliefs about what is right and wrong. That does not make people automatically hateful. I recognize that their are people who preach hate against homosexuality. But to claim that this is representative of Christians generally is inaccurate. I maintain that believing that what another person does is wrong is not the same thing as hate. The biggest proof I have is that I believe in a moral code and I don't hate people who don't believe the same way.


2nd try
Do churches also need to change/write bylaws regarding certain offices be limited to only men? Could there not be lawsuits brought by women claiming discrimination based on gender?

Mission Viejo, CA

It's sad we have uneducated people running churches. Churches, by virtue of the First Amendment, can exclude whomever they want. The LDS Church decides all the time who can and can't have a temple marriage. Catholics only allow Catholics to be married in their cathedrals. Marriage equality will change none of this.
I'd also like to point out that the recent New Mexico case wasn't even about a same-gendered marriage. It was a commitment ceremony. The photographer was operating a business. As part of getting a business license, they agreed to follow by the anti-discrimination laws of the State and failed to do so. The State doesn't license Churches.
In fact SCOTUS recently sided with a church in a unanimous decision after a teacher sued for being fired while she was out on disability. Any business would have lost the suit, but because it was a church, the Supreme Court decided that the Church didn't have to follow the same rules as businesses because of the First Amendment.

West Point , UT

To answer Blue AZ Cougars question, the LDS church in MOST European countries does/is required to do just as you and others suggested. Members of the LDS faith in those countries have to get married in a civil court and then go to the temple to be sealed and "married" again according to their religious rights. The same thing is about to happen here in the United States.

The idea that same sex couples aren't going to sue or push their "civil rights" agenda on religious entities is down right laughable in light of the ruling in NM. Contrarius, have you stepped back a moment to think about the many religions that run a non-profit business in association with their congregation/church? Have any liberals saying this is a "solution looking for a problem" stopped to consider that these religions depend on non-profit status & issue state marriage licenses as part of their marriage ceremony, all of which could be threatened by "gay civil rights" under state law? They honestly want us to believe in light of NM that these "non-profit" statuses & rights to perform legal marriages won't be infringed or threatened by law suits?

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