The Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act says religious organizations could not be stripped of their tax-exempt status if their clergy refuse to perform any civil marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his or her faith.
Ashburn says he agrees that religious freedoms should be protected, but notes such protections are already in place under existing state law and the U.S. Constitution.
Ashburn says in a letter addressed to Schwarzenegger that he shared with On Top Magazine that he objects to the bill because it would create “second class” marriages for gay and lesbian couples.
“The major change under this bill would be the creation of a new class of marriages. SB 906 seeks to redefine the definition of marriage by inserting the word 'civil' before the word 'marriage' throughout state statue.”
“What I seek is full, equal marriage rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation,” Ashburn added. “SB 906 is clearly less than full marriage equality and therefore, I respectfully ask for your veto.”
This my friends brings up a very good question, a question that also gave me pause when it came to "cheering" for the bill in California. What is true equality? Is it equality when an organization can purposefully discriminate based upon a religious belief? Is it even more discriminatory when such organizations are allowed to meander around tax laws because they have tax-exempt status?
As I have stated before in this blog, there are two major players in the world...religion and government. Government controls the laws, yet religion controls the minds. So therefore, when you have a law that conflicts with religion, I propose that religion should not get a "get out of jail free" card. For by doing so...by not being held to the same standards that society has set, you allow the Church to actually trump society. Let me explain this in two ways.
First, laws such as allowing same-sex marriage are based upon the philosophy that all men are created equal and should be treated as equals; all men have the same rights and responsibilities. Our Constitution, with its promises of Due Process and Equal Protection undoubtedly back this up. Yet when we allow the concept of religious freedom to "trump" these equality rights, we are allowing private organizations (which are government funded because of their tax exempt status) to be placed above the law. If religion does not agree with something that the government has enacted, all it has to say is that it cannot abide by said law because of its religious beliefs. Does this make the Church and Government equals? No it does not, it allows for the Church to rule over the Government. For though the Government might say something, the Church still can make its own rules.
Second, because Religion controls the minds of society, allowing it special privileges based upon religious beliefs, reinforces discrimination. If you don't think that this would happen with LGBT people and marriage equality, all you have to do is look at the status of women in society today. Though women have made great strides in business, politics, etc. the Church is still one area where women are mostly not allowed to enter. For example, they are not allowed to be Priests in the Catholic Church, they are not allowed to be ministers in the Southern Baptist Convention. Religion, I postulate, has subjected women to male dominance and has been allowed by government to have a "pass" on gender neutralizing itself. This may be why we still have the glass ceiling in politics and business, because women are not allowed to be leaders in the Church, and so in their minds it is reinforced that they should not try to attain that in society.Religious inequality and discrimination have exacerbated the problems facing women and I know that it will do the same with LGBT people if bills like California's are allowed to go into effect.
The first amendment of the Constitution is very important, and its freedoms of religion are very much cherished in the United States. But when does ones freedom of religion allow you to discriminate against others, while at the same time receiving governmental priority? If organizations want to discriminate, that fine with me, because I cannot forcibly control their actions. Yet if a government truly cares about equality for all of its citizens, it must stop underwriting those who purposefully discriminate through tax-exemption.
One final thought in conclusion...how would Americans feel if the KKK was tax-exempt? Or the Neo-Nazis? They advocate racial discrimination and white supremacy; but what is the difference between gender discrimination or sexual orientation discrimination, and male supremacy or heterosexual supremacy?