Gay marriage may have been ruled in Utah as unconstitutional earlier this month, but a Republican Senator in the state is fighting to make sure that churches and other places of worship aren’t forced to perform same-sex marriages. Mike Lee has introduced the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” which protects clergy from being punished or churches from losing their tax-exempt status if they refuse to perform gay marriages. An accompanying House bill was also passed with bipartisan support.
“This is something that the overwhelming majority of Americans would support and the overwhelming majority of Americans would be disappointed if they discovered Congress would be unwilling to pass something like this,” said Lee. “Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, [we] need to stand up and make clear that there is a good reason why religious liberty receives protection in the Constitution, and there are good reasons why we need to draw protective lines in legislation that we pass that will bolster those protections.”
Many religious leaders have expressed concern over these because several businesses have been forced to perform services for same-sex couples despite their own religious beliefs. Earlier this month, a judged ordered a Colorado cake shop owner to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple under the threat of jail time, despite his initial refusal to do so because it went against his religion.
Speaking to Fox & Friends, Denver business owner Jack Phillips said he told the couple, “I don’t do same-sex wedding cakes. I offered to do other cakes. Birthday cakes, shower cakes, selling cookies and brownies, I just don’t do same-sex weddings.” He expressed shock at both the lawsuit and the verdict because he believes the state and U.S. constitutions protect his rights to exercise his religious beliefs while on the job.
“I don’t believe I need to drop my religious convictions at anytime, for any reason,” said Phillips. “It’s not just making the cake or … getting out from under pressure. I don’t feel like I should participate in their ceremony and when I make that cake, I’m participating in that ceremony.“