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.