Sunday, October 6, 2013

Redefining Marriage, Protecting Religion - Garden State Marriage Equality // NJ Law Journal

Redefining Marriage, Protecting Religion:
Amid predictions that the courts will now bear the laboring oar in bringing the marriage equality debate to conclusion in New Jersey, it is tempting to assume the pressure is off the Legislature to consider overriding the governor's veto of the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act (S-1). We disagree, and ironically, a large part of the rationale that enactment of the law is still very necessary is in order to cater to the interests of social conservatives, who fervently argue for a broad religious exemption that only the legislation can provide.
Not only would S-1 enact civil marriage equality. It contains provisions intended to leave decisions about religious marriage to religions. It thus provides definite assurances regarding the free exercise of religion that are ultimately protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by art. 1, par. 4 of the N.J. Constitution. It provides that no member of the clergy of any religion shall be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of the free exercise of religion, and also that no religious society, institution or organization in this state serving a particular faith or denomination shall be compelled to provide space, services, advantages, goods or privileges related to the solemnization, celebration or promotion of marriage, if that marriage is in violation of the beliefs of the religious organization.

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