TINLEY PARK - Over 100 Chicago area pastors vowed to fight back against the effort to legalize same sex marriages Thursday morning at an informational forum sponsored by Illinois Family Institute at the Tinley Park Convention Center in the southwest suburbs.
IFI's Executive Director David Smith and Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Joseph LaRue told the pastors representing black, Latino and mixed congregations that the legislation is more expansive than simply allowing two persons of the same sex to legally marry. Rep. Greg Harris' new proposal would also require any church that opens its doors to outside organizations to rent to same sex couples, as well.
"If this bill passes, they have graciously decided to give you what the First Amendment says, and what the courts have said, that you don't have to marry anybody you don't want to, isn't that nice of them?" LaRue said. "But here's what does happen to you - If you let outside groups use your church facility, if you rent your church facilities to the Boy Scouts or Al Anon or whatever it may be... if you open your church building to outsiders, then you have to open it up to everybody, and it doesn't matter what you believe about it. That's what the law says."
"So if you get a same sex couple that wants to rent your fellowship hall to hold their wedding celebration, or wants to rent your sanctuary to conduct their same sex wedding, you're going to have to let them do it," LaRue said. "Think that doesn't infringe on your religious freedom?"
While Rep Harris' bill says it exempts opposing churches from performing same sex marriages, it doesn't allow religious schools, organizations or businesses owned by persons who are religiously opposed to same sex marriage to opt out of services involved with same sex marriages.
ADF Attorney LaRue referred to a case in which a Christian photographer is being sued for refusing services to a same sex couple's wedding ceremony. The case is now being decided by the New Mexico Supreme Court.
IFI's Smith told pastors to inform their church members about religious freedom impediments Rep. Harris' bill would place on Christians, and urged them to preach boldly against the homosexual lifestyle and the efforts of gay rights activists. President Barack Obama's grouping of gay rights into racial and women's rights during this week's inauguration speech signalled the Administration's embrace of the gay rights advancement.
Illinois Family Institute is expecting nearly 100 pastors at two other briefings to be held Thursday night in Peoria and Friday morning in Collinsville Illinois. IFI and the churches are organizing a lobbying day against Rep. Harris' legislation on February 20th at the State Capitol.