I??ve been hearing on the radio the last few days a conflict that’s brewing between the United Methodist Church and the state of New Jersey. At issue is whether or not the state should force the church to allow gay marriage on their property. You see, New Jersey is “hip?? to the civil union and marriage of homosexuals. So hip, in fact, that they now protect those rights under anti-discrimination law as a civil right.
The setting for the trouble is an open air pavilion where a gay couple wished to wed located in Ocean Grove, NJ. The couple applied to the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and submitted a deposit for the use of the property. The Association rejected their request and returned the deposit on the grounds that it was against their moral doctrine. The OGCMA is a methodist-run group that owns the boardwalk pavilion, and pretty much the entire town of Ocean Grove.
The couple, of course, felt their civil rights had been violated and lodged a complaint with the state’s director of civil rights. The Camp Meeting Association, sensing trouble, filed a federal lawsuit as a preemptive measure to ensure it would not be forced to deviate from its constitutional rights.
It will be curious to see how this all plays out because if this actually goes in favor of the gay couple then boy are we in for a clash between freedom of religion and civil rights. My opinion is why does this couple want to use a church’s property (against their wishes) to wed if not to just make a political/social statement? No word yet if the ACLU will champion the cause of the poor, rights-challenged gays.