Yesterday over at Americans United’s Wall of Separation, my colleagues commented on an important anniversary coming up this weekend. Happy first anniversary to marriage equality nationwide! Loving, committed same-sex couples now have the freedom to marry – this fundamental right is not contingent on who you love.
My colleagues also noted that following the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell, some folks made outrageous claims. Pastors would be thrown in jail! (Nope.) It will lead to the “deconstruction of the family!” (Nope.) Ministers would be forced to marry same-sex couples!
This last one puzzled us. After all, religious liberty is a fundamental American value. Under the First Amendment, no pastor in a church or rabbi in a synagogue can be required by any law or government official to perform any marriage ceremony. A religious body along with its faith leaders – not the government – may decide what its teachings and tenets are and accordingly, who may be married in its houses of worship by its clergy. Some will choose to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples; some will not. But it’s their choice.
So my colleagues undertook exhaustive research. Now there's a conclusive count of the number of ministers forced to marry same-sex couples.