Opponents claim same-sex marriage bill threatens religious liberty

Votes could come soon in the Minnesota House and Senate to legalize same-sex marriage, and opponents are trying to point out the flaws they see in the legislation.

The opposition group Minnesota for Marriage held a news conference today to highlight its concerns, even though its leaders said they do not believe the House will pass the bill. In particular, the group contends that religious liberties would not be adequately protected if the state redefines marriage.

Several speakers from New York shared their experiences after that state legalized gay marriage in 2011, and they warned that similar problems will occur in Minnesota if the legislation passes.

Laura Fotusky said she quit her job as clerk for the Town of Barker rather than issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

“I could not sign the marriage licenses and congratulate the couples, since I believe that marriage was designed and defines by God as between a man and a woman,” Fotusky said.

Cynthia Gifford, the owner of a rural New York wedding venue, said she’s a facing a human rights complaint for turning away a lesbian couple.

“We have to choose between our religious beliefs, our morals and ethics that we’ve taught our two children, and our family income,” Gifford said. “Do we lose all that we’ve worked for because legislation has changed a definition that is thousands of years old?”

Supporters of the bill reject the claim that it will infringe on religious beliefs. Rep. Steve Simon, DFL-St. Louis Park, said the Minnesota legislation would enact the strongest religious protections of any similar law in the country.

“When you look across categories at what this particular proposal would allow and respect and acknowledge, it goes further than any other state,” Simon said. “To imply that people’s religious principles would be compromised is really not true.”

Simon, who is a co-author of the same-sex marriage bill in the House, said he is cautiously optimistic that there are enough votes for passage.

  • Jamie

    Do these same business people turn away folks wearing polyester or with tattoos? Are people quitting their jobs over what other people eat?

    With many churches (both Christian and non-christian) marrying gay couples and many other people not being religious at all, it seems ridiculous that we should hold everyone back for a couple sects of the Christian faith that do not want marriage equality.