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We should be free to preach the gospel, we should be free to help the poor in Christ's name, we should be free to heal the sick in Christ's name, we should be free to educate in Christ's name, and now we are being told for the first time that the government has the right to tell us that our ministries are now public services without religious reference… It's chilling and difficult for me to live with that my own government is now saying that what you thought you could do, namely exercise your religion freely as you define it, now depends upon how we define what you do. This isn't just the bishops, we have Catholic University, Notre Dame University, and many others who are saying "You are robbing of us of our identity as Catholics."
– Francis Cardinal George, Archdiocese of Chicago
The Catholic Church teaches: "Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself" (Sacramentum Caritatis, 29). As the following examples illustrate, efforts to redefine marriage are harming our religious liberties:
New Mexico (2013) – The owners of a photography studio would not take the pictures of a same-sex "commitment ceremony" because they did not want to participate in behavior contrary to their religious beliefs. In 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied the owners' appeal, affirming the lower court opinion that the studio violated the state Human Rights Act. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Colorado (2013) – Two men "married" in Massachusetts requested a Denver bakery make a "wedding" cake for their wedding reception in Denver. For religious reasons, the owners of the bakery declined to make the cake. The two men filed a complaint with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights, which found that the bakery violated that law. After this finding, the Colorado Attorney General's office filed a complaint against the bakery, resulting in an administrative law judge and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission deciding against the bakery. The bakery is appealing.
Washington (2013) – A florist who declined to provide flowers for a same-sex "wedding" was sued by the state Attorney General.
Maine (2012) – The State of Maine has informed all notaries public (approximately 25,000) that regardless of religious objections, they must "wed" same-sex "couples," if they wed opposite-sex couples. Otherwise, these notaries could be subject to a claim of discrimination. In the words of one notary: "I'm a Catholic and under no circumstances would I do a same-sex marriage." He added, "I'm concerned that if I refused to perform a same-sex marriage, I could be challenged legally."Vermont (2012) – For allegedly not hosting a "wedding" reception for a same-sex "couple," Catholic owners of a bed and breakfast settled a discrimination lawsuit, requiring them to (1) pay a $10,000 civil penalty, (2) pay $20,000 to a charitable trust, and (3) not host wedding receptions of any kind. Upon settling the lawsuit, the owners of the bed and breakfast said, "But no one can force us to abandon our deeply held beliefs about marriage."
New Jersey (2012) – The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights found that a Methodist organization violated a public accommodations law by not allowing a same-sex civil union ceremony at its boardwalk pavilion.
Catholic Charities – Catholic Charities of Boston (2006), Catholic Charities San Francisco (2006), Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., (2010), and Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois (2011) had to cease adoption services or face civil liability for not placing children in the homes of same-sex couples.
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