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Another marriage amendment to be proposed

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Posted at 10:18 PM, Dec 31, 2013
and last updated 2014-01-01 00:18:52-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a question causing some uncertainty -- can a church be forced to marry a same-sex couple?

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution suggests that would violate religious rights.

Despite that a state lawmaker plans to propose an amendment that would ensure churches wouldn't be sued for denying gay couples.

Rep. Jacob Anderegg claims the amendment he’s proposing is not reactionary, but something that needs to be clearly defined by the state.

“I'm running the bill… to give the religious right the ability to relax,”Anderegg said. “It is a sad state of affairs when we have to prop up the First Amendment, let's be frank. A lot of the religious right feels their voice has been overturned. Nearly 68 percent voted for Amendment Three in the state and now a radial judge had overturned the voice of the people.”

Law professor and Equality Utah board member, Cliff Rosky, says there's no harm in passing the amendment, but it really wouldn't change anything.

“I've been getting this question for years and the answer has always been clear this is the thing that both sides agree on,” Rosky said. “There is no clearer violation of the First Amendment than the government forcing the church to perform a religious ritual. It's inconceivable. It's never happened and it never will in the United States.”

Shelly Eyre and Cheryl Haws were denied a marriage license in Utah County last week. The couple considered bringing a lawsuit, but decided against it when the county clerk changed his mind.

They say despite the challenges they faced to get to the alter, they respect the choices people and churches make and hope that people will respect their choices too.

"That's the beauty of it, it's okay for people to say no -- it's okay for people to say yes,” Haws said. “We have our rights to make choices and have liberties and that's what America is."

Anderegg thinks not everyone will share that opinion in the coming years, saying he fears 14th amendment rights to equality under the law, may squash the right to religious freedom.