A series of lawsuits and a new court ruling are fresh examples of how laws granting marriage benefits to gay couples can end up squashing religious liberty, says a Christian attorney involved in one of the cases.
All four cases involve states with gay "marriage" or same-sex civil unions laws: Illinois, Vermont, Hawaii and New Jersey. In Vermont and Illinois, bed and breakfast owners were sued for declining to host a same-sex ceremony or reception, and in Hawaii, a bed and breakfast owner was sued after turning away a lesbian couple who wanted to make a reservation.
In New Jersey, a state judge ruled Jan. 12 that a Christian beachfront property operated by United Methodists violated state non-discrimination laws when it refused to host a lesbian couple's civil union ceremony.
Jim Campbell, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund -- which is representing the Methodist group -- said the cases prove that there is harm to religious liberty when states legalize gay "marriage" or civil unions or pass broad legislation incorporating sexual orientation into non-discrimination laws.
"When people hear that their legislature is considering a law like this and they think, 'What's the harm?' they need to realize that there is this direct threat to religious liberty -- to business owners, employees, religious entities and people who attend all those religious entities," Campbell told Baptist Press. "These four cases are a good demonstration of that. People who are concerned about religious liberty should be concerned about these legal developments."