The California Assembly passed the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act on Aug. 19 in a 46-25 vote. It previously passed the Senate 23-11 and is now en route to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and promoted by Equality California and the California Council of Churches, the bill redundantly protects clergy members from having to perform civil marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs.
It also redundantly protects religious institutions from losing tax-exempt status for refusing to perform any civil marriage, and deepens the distinction in state law between religious and civil marriage by defining the latter as a civil contract that requires a state-issued marriage license.
Both of the “protections” in the bill already exist throughout the U.S., including California.
“Opponents of marriage equality have falsely claimed that allowing same-sex couples to marry will force clergy to violate the tenets of their faiths,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “This bill should alleviate any concerns that restoring marriage equality will require clergy to perform weddings inconsistent with their faith.”