A New Jersey church group that owns beachfront property has lost a court case in which they allegedly discriminated against a lesbian couple by not allowing them to rent the locale for their civil union ceremony.
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said its investigation found that the refusal of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to rent the oceanfront spot to the couple for their same-sex union in March 2007 violated the public accommodation provisions of the state’s Law Against Discrimination. An administrative law judge still must decide on a remedy for the parties.
“What this case has always been about from my clients’ perspective has been equality,” said Larry Lustberg, the lawyer for the couple. He said they will seek an order that requires the pavilion to be “open to all on an equal basis.”
Brian Raum, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based group that represents the Methodist organization, Camp Meeting Association, said his clients would keep pushing back against being forced to allow civil unions on the property.
“Our position is the same,” he said. “A Christian organization has a constitutional right to use their facilities in a way that is consistent with their beliefs.”
I have to agree with Mr. Raum. Religious organizations should be allowed to do what they wish within facilities that they own, so long as they are not breaking any laws. And as far as I know, it is not currently against the law to “refuse service” to anyone based on their sexual preference.
The problem it seems that churches and religious organizations will continue to face is the gay movement’s claim that they are being discriminated against and comparing themselves for example to African Americans’ fight for equal rights.
I would question however if it is really fair to compare one’s sexual preference or should I rather say “choice of lifestyle” to another’s race or even gender? Common sense would dictate that it is not. Sadly that does not seem to be slowing down gay rights activists using the “discrimination card” as an offense to push their agenda.