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Concerned that the state's new same-sex marriage law would infringe on religious liberties, the Connecticut Catholic Conference today proposed some broad exemptions which it believes are necessary to protect those rights.
The law does not require Catholic priests -- or any other clergy member -- to preside over same-sex weddings. (or any church to let its premises for any wedding)
However, the church is seeking additional exemptions. For instance, it wants to ensure that a florist opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds not be forced to sell flowers to a same-sex couple. (or a Baker, cakes; or a Stationer printed invitations; or a Planner planning, etc.)
"Same-sex couples have their liberties protected fully. Religious people are wondering 'how is this going to effect (SIC) me?"' David Reynolds, lobbyist for the Catholic Church, told members of the legislature's judiciary committee.
"A situation has been created....where state policy seriously conflicts with the religious beliefs of a large number of the citizens of the state," Reynolds said. He cited examples in other states where businesspeople opposed to gay marriage have faced legal action because they declined to provide goods or services to gay couples. (Crapaud says they ought to read the US Constitution)
In October, the state Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples had the right to marry and a month later, Connecticut became the second state to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
The legislature is now codifying the court's decision, adjusting existing statutes to make sure they comport with the court's ruling.
Anne Stanback, executive director of Love Makes a Family, said the bill before the committee simply makes sure the state's laws are in line with the court ruling. "Marriage equally is the law in Connecticut and this will not make it any more legal,' she said.
"I've been with you guys all along," said Kissel, a Republican from Enfield. But, "we're at a fork in the road and I have to let go of your hand."
A law preventing a Catholic caterer from serving guests at a same-sex marriage could also be used by a Protestant baker who doesn't want to sell a cake to a Catholic father for his son's first communion, Kissel said. "It could just as easily turn against each and every Catholic in the state of Connecticut."
Logic or fairness (or even charity?) rarely seem to impact Roman Catholic theology in action these days.