The little children who comprise the Religious Right in Connecticut — including the state’s Roman Catholic bishops, their puppets the Knights of Columbus, and various other theocratic groups — continue throwing tantrums over the fact that gay marriage is now legal here. A bill (SB 899) which would revise a number of state statutes to account for gay marriage is being considered — and the children are downright furious, as the Hartford Courant reports:

Six months after the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in Connecticut, opponents are opening a new front in the contentious battle.

Through a high-profile campaign that includes robocalls, TV spots, newspaper ads and messages from the pulpit, the Roman Catholic Church and other groups, both local and national, are making a last-ditch effort to carve out legal protections for business owners and professionals who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds. …

What’s at stake, these groups say, are the rights of citizens whose religious beliefs teach them that homosexuality is sinful, immoral or wrong. They believe that being forced to play a part in such unions, whether as a wedding photographer documenting the nuptials, a justice of the peace overseeing the ceremony or a marriage therapist providing counseling afterward, violates their right to religious liberty.

The Catholic bishops are already on record as demanding the right of Catholic florists not to have to sell flowers to be used at gay weddings — even though Connecticut cannot guarantee this right for them, since it’s against federal civil-rights laws for businesses to discriminate against customers, and states cannot supersede that. These groups again are misrepresenting the truth, basing their claim on a unidirectional form of “religious freedom” (as the Courant article relates):

“Freedom of religion [is a] fundamental right that [has] been inscribed in our federal constitution forever,” said attorney John Droney, who is providing legal advice to the Knights of Columbus. “It doesn’t suddenly get put on the shelf because of this new, emerging right.”

Who a person chooses to marry is not the concern of the Catholic Church, or any other Religious Right group, if they aren’t members of that denomination or group. They do not accept that their “religious freedom” ends at the doors of their own homes and churches, and that other people, outside their religion, can do as they wish (so long as it’s legal). For them, having their own “religious freedom” requires they be allowed to interfere with the lives of everyone else.

The truth of the matter is that there is no “religious freedom” problem here:

Gay rights activists say they wouldn’t expect a Catholic priest to solemnize a gay union. But they say businesses and individuals that offer goods and services to the public must abide by anti-discrimination laws and face legal consequences if they do not.

“The United States constitution absolutely protects religious liberties and no one can force any religious organization to recognize any marriage they don’t want to recognize,” said Chris Edelson, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group.

But, he added, “if you run a business that’s open to the public you cannot discriminate.”

As I’ve mentioned earlier, this principle is a federal civil-rights matter which companies such as Denny’s has run aground on. It is not at stake in SB 899, even though opponents irrationally and childishly claim it is. Unfortunately, we in Connecticut are forced to endure an extensive lobbying and advertising campaign based upon this lie that “religious freedom” is in peril:

Meanwhile, the National Organization for Marriage has launched a $1.5 million television ad campaign “highlighting the threat that same-sex marriage poses to the core civil rights of all Americans who believe in marriage as the union of a husband and wife,” the group said.

They can repeat themselves ad nauseum, but repetition doesn’t make them anything other than liars. (Why are we being subjected to so many lying liars for Jesus these days? Hmm?)

It’s worth noting that not all of Connecticut’s religious organizations and churches have fallen in with this lie. In a letter to the editor of the Courant, the conference minister of the Connecticut Conference, United Church of Christ, exposes this lie:

I object strenuously to the full-page ad that ran on April 16 and 17 about the same-gender-marriage bill now before the legislature. It asserts that “Church groups who won’t comply will be punished by the government.” This is not true and is fear-mongering at its worst. The other assertions about parents, schools and businesses are likewise false.

As the leader of the United Church of Christ in Connecticut, I can say with certainty that no citizen’s religious rights will be denied them with Bill 899. We have monitored it carefully and believe its passage, without amendment, will ensure the religious and civil rights of thousands.

It’s nice to see at least one Christian denomination standing up to these liars!

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