Democratic Leader Wants No Religious Exceptions For Gay Marriage
Assembly Minority Leader Lou Greenwald told The Star Ledger that Assembly Democrats are not likely to pass legislation that would protect clergy and religious organizations from being forced to perform same sex marriages and accommodate the ceremonies.
What’s less clear is what the Legislature is going to do about gay marriage. Right now, gay couples can get married in New Jersey. But that right hangs on a decision made at the Superior Court level, since the state Supreme Court never decided the case.
Lawmakers could try to override Christie’s 2012 veto of gay marriage legislation or write a new bill to encode it into law. Or they could do nothing — an option they say is looking more attractive.
Greenwald said the Assembly is leaning against an override because, even if they cobbled together the two-thirds majority they’d need to pull it off, a religious exemption provision that was inserted into the bill to win Republican support could actually restrict rights gay couples have under the court ruling.
“The answer probably is no,” Greenwald said of the override. “Right now in New Jersey, the opinion seems to be that we have the strongest marriage equality laws in the country.”
Early last year the New Jersey Legislature passed the Marriage Equality and Religious Exceptions Act which, if it had been signed by Governor Chris Christie, would have granted same sex couples the right to marry and recognized the First Amendment Right of clergy and religious societies, organizations and institutions not to solemnize gay marriage or provide space, goods, services, advantages or privileges for gay marriage ceremonies. The Act would have provided immunity from civil law suits against religious organizations that refused to accommodate gay marriages.