Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lawsuit Against Church in NJ: Coming Soon to Mass.

One of the many ways "the sky is falling": LifeSite News reports that a lesbian couple in New Jersey is suing a church for refusing to let them have their "civil union" ceremony on church property. It won't be long before we see similar lawsuits in Massachusetts against churches that refuse homosexual "marriage" ceremonies on their properties. Just as in New Jersey law, Massachusetts bans discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of "sexual orientattion." Freedom of religion? What's that?

Lesbian Couple Files Complaint against Church for Refusing Civil Union Ceremony
OCEAN GROVE, New Jersey ( - A New Jersey lesbian couple has filed a civil rights complaint against a Christian seaside retreat association that refused to facilitate their "civil union." Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster filed the complaint June 19 with the state attorney general's office on the grounds of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation after the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association declined the use of their Boardwalk Pavilion for their civil union ceremony, planned for September.

Bernstein and Paster demanded "whatever relief is provided by law" including unspecified "compensatory damages for economic loss, humiliation, [and] mental pain." New Jersey's anti-discrimination laws currently forbid those who "offer goods, services, and facilities to the general public" from "directly or indirectly denying or withholding any accommodation, service, benefit, or privilege to an individual" on the basis of sexual orientation.

However the OGCMA has stated that it must adhere to the rules of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which forbids homosexual civil unions from being performed in churches and other areas for worship. "The facility that they requested is a facility we have used exclusively for our camp meeting mission and worship celebrations since 1869," Scott Hoffman, OGCMA's chief administrative officer told ...

Here's the Mass. law:
Chapter 272: Section 98. Discrimination in admission to, or treatment in, place of public accommodation; punishment; forfeiture; civil right
Section 98. Whoever makes any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, which shall not include persons whose sexual orientation involves minor children as the sex object, deafness, blindness or any physical or mental disability or ancestry relative to the admission of any person to, or his treatment in any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, as defined in section ninety-two A, or whoever aids or incites such distinction, discrimination or restriction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, and shall be liable to any person aggrieved thereby for such damages as are enumerated ... All persons shall have the right to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable to all persons. This right is recognized and declared to be a civil right.