Oklahoma Pastors Could Go To Jail Over Gay MarriageIt's a religious thing. That's what opponents of gay marriage say all the time. Somehow allowing gays to marry is going to infringe on their religious views and their First Amendment right to freedom of religion (never mind the fact that even right now churches are never required to marry anyone, for any reason they choose).
But, given that they're the ones that brought up this religious freedom argument, I'm now calling for all conservative Christians to stick up for my religious liberties and the religious liberties of gays in Oklahoma (and for all my Baptist friends--let's not forget the Baptist Church was founded nearly specifically on the idea of separation of church and state).
Oklahoma State Representative Jason Nelson has introduced a bill that will make it expressly illegal for a "minister of the Gospel" to solemnize a marriage, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison. Nevermind the fact that if a pastor marries two gay people it will have no legal standing in Oklahoma because of their 2004 Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage. It seems that Rep. Nelson wants to send people of faith to prison simply for expressing and practicing their own religious views, even if their officiating of a wedding has no actual legal standing anyway. Sorry to all of those gay-affirming denominations. It looks like you could be going to jail.
That sounds like an infringement of the First Amendment to me, and I call all conservatives to fight and speak out on this bill (patiently waiting...).
On a somewhat humorous sidenote--for some reason this bill only applies to Christian ministers. The Gospel refers to the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament, so Jews, Hindus, Muslims, et. al. seem to still be able to marry gays. Good for them.
Jason Nelso has commented on the Queerty post I linked above and said that this bill is simply a "shell bill"--essentially a place holder to make a change to marriage law in the next session. He says this has nothing to do with gay marriage and he probably does not intend to move forward on this issue at all. I find that hard to believe because, as he says, he already strongly supports the existing bill as it is stated. So, if he already supports the current marriage law, why is he needing to "place hold" a law on marriage? I guess only time will tell at this point.