American Samizdat

Friday, January 12, 2007. *
Clergy in New Jersey cannot be required to unite gay couples in civil unions, the state attorney general announced Thursday in a decision that quelled the fears of some religious groups opposed to same-sex ceremonies. Attorney General Stuart Rabner's legal opinion, sent in a letter to the state registrar of vital statistics, came less than a month after the state became the third to offer gay couples civil unions. The unions give the legal benefits of marriage, but not the title. Couples may begin applying for licenses on Feb. 19 and can be united 72 hours later.

Under the law, all the same people who perform marriages -- among them clergy, judges, mayors and other local officials -- can preside over civil union ceremonies. Some opponents of civil unions said they feared the law would give gay rights activists the ability to sue to force clergy to perform the ceremonies.

[Article continues at link. In my experience, this was the main problem Christians had with same sex marriage. For no good reason, they imagined the sheriff forcing their pastor to marry homosexuals at rifle-point. Clarifying that no clergy person is compelled to marry anyone in particular at any time shouldn't be necessary, but once that is conveyed Christians seem to calm down about it all. Then when I asked them what legal benefits they want to deny same-sex couples they always say 'none.' It's just the made-up problem that they would be woken out of bed and marched to the church by deputies, forced to witness a gay marriage.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 6:52 PM
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