Same-Sex Marriage Cases of Church Healthcare, Employment, and Protections: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Same-Sex Marriage Cases of Church Healthcare, Employment, and Protections: News Roundup

Florida Passes Bill Protecting Churches from Performing Gay Wedding Ceremonies. “Florida law will specify that churches can’t be forced to marry same-sex couples under a bill the Legislature send [sic] to Governor Rick Scott on Thursday [March 3]. Scott’s office said he’ll sign the measure, which opponents say isn’t necessary and is simply an overreaction to the US Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. Bill sponsor Senator Aaron Bean acknowledged last year’s ruling is the reason for his bill, which passed on a 23–15 vote with only Republicans in favor and Democrats joined by only one Republican in opposition. ‘A definition of marriage that many held sacred and part of their religious belief was turned upside down,’ said Bean, R-Fernandina Beach. ‘The entire marriage world turned upside down. Some celebrated and some are still scratching their heads, but that’s now the law of the land. So, that’s why we’re here’” (“Scott Expected to Sign Bill That Protects Churches from Marrying Gay Couples,”

Attorney Richard Hammar addresses church’s concerns over same-sex marriage in this online article.

Michigan Catholic Church to Extend Healthcare Coverage to Gay Couples. “The Catholic Church in Michigan is making changes to its health care plane [sic] that would extend coverage for the LGBT community. The church is modifying its health care plans to allow LGBT individuals to acquire health care for their partners or spouses in order to comply with the law. The extension is for people who are older than 18, have lived with employees of Catholic entities for at least six months, and are financially dependent on the employee.
. . .
“The Archdiocese of Detroit released a statement on the subject, saying, ‘The Michigan Catholic Conference is not making this move to modify or change its teachings. It is modifying language in our health benefit policy so we can comply with federal law in a way that is consistent with Catholic teaching’" (“MI Catholic Church to Expand Health Care for Same-Sex Couples,”

Missouri Court Confirms Religious Institutions’ Right to Hire and Fire Based on Beliefs. “A Missouri court ruling in favor of a Catholic diocese protects the right of religious institutions to fire ministerial employees who do not live consistently with their religious beliefs. ‘This ruling rightly preserves the integrity of churches and religious institutions,’ Jeremiah Galus, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told CNA [Catholic News Agency] March 2. ‘If churches are forced to employ people who do not follow their religious teachings, they will no longer be able to minister consistently or freely in accordance with their faith.’ Galus was responding to a court ruling that the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph is free to make ministerial employment decisions without government interference and did not violate any laws by terminating employment of a woman in a same-sex marriage. ‘Churches should have the right to hire and fire people based on how consistently they live out their religious beliefs. If an employee is undermining or publicly opposing the church’s teaching, the church is within its constitutional rights to terminate employment,’ Galus said” (“Court Affirms Church’s Right to Hire and Fire Ministers,” Catholic News Agency).

Will ministers be legally required to perform same-sex marriages? Richard Hammar explains in this video.

Fired Gay Music Director Sues Church for Wrongful Termination. “A gay man who claims he was fired as music director at a northwest suburban Catholic church after publicly announcing his engagement has asked a federal court to order the Chicago Archdiocese to give him his job back, asserting federal, state and Cook County non-discrimination laws and past employment decisions by the Archdiocese trump the Roman Catholic Church’s prerogative under the so-called ‘ministerial exception’ to fire church workers whose same-sex marriages may violate the Catholic church’s stated beliefs on marriage. John Colin Collette, of Chicago, filed his complaint on March 7 in Chicago federal court against the Archdiocese and Holy Family Parish, the church at which he had worked for 17 years, in Inverness, Illinois. The three-count complaint levels alleged the Archdiocese and the Inverness church had violated the federal Civil Rights Act, the Illinois Human Rights Act and the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance in firing Collette in 2014” (“Ex-Church Music Director Sues Catholic Archdiocese for Firing Him after Announcing Same-Sex Marriage Engagement,”

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This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.


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