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State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is introducing legislation today to clarify the religious freedom of clergy performing civil marriages, an issue that has been raised in the debate over same-sex marriage.

Some opposed to same-sex marriage have expressed concern that if such marriages were legal, clergy might be required by law to marry same-sex couples. In response, Leno, a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage, is introducing legislation that would affirm that there is such requirement of clergy if a marriage conflicts with their religious beliefs.

A trial in federal court in San Francisco is currently weighing the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, enacted by voters in 2008.

Leno’s legislation also states that religious institutions such as churches that refuse to marry certain couples would not be penalized by losing their tax-exempt status.

Leno and members of Equality California, the California Council of Churches and other clergy were scheduled to announce the legislation at a news conference in Sacramento at noon.

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  • Belgand

    “is introducing legislation that would affirm that there is such requirement of clergy”

    Uhm… shouldn’t there be a “not” in the middle of this sentence from the second paragraph?

  • sfboogie

    Can churches legally (under veil of religious beliefs) refuse to marry heterosexual couples based on their race? Their ethnicity? Their disability? (etc.) If not- then this legislation should either not happen (ideal) or should include all protected classes of citizens. All this legislation does is further make homosexuality something that should be discriminated against. And seriously- where will it end? Will private schools use this to expel queer students if being queer doesn’t align with their beliefs (be it religious or otherwise)? This will set a precedent that will be hard to get past. The LGBTQ community should NEVER support (and especially introduce) legislation that makes discrimination legal. I realize that this is an effort to appease bigots on the marriage issue, but the bottom line is that they are bigots and we need to win the fight based on what is morally and ethically right. We cannot concede and make laws that further promote discrimination. If a church wants to refuse to marry a gay couple and said couple wants to sue- let them. That’s how it works. They may win. They may lose, but at least we didn’t just roll over. And I have a feeling they would lose given court cases against the Boy Scouts of America. So in reality the legislation really isn’t needed.