US: Protection given to clergy who reject same-sex marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A US Governor has acted to protect clergy and religious organisations from punishment if they refuse to recognise same-sex marriage.

Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback, issued the executive order, titled ‘Preservation and Protection of Religious Freedom’, earlier today.

The order, which echoes protections offered in the Bill of Rights of the Kansas Constitution, prohibits the state from taking any discriminatory action against “individual clergy or religious leader,” or any “religious organisation” that objects to a marriage that conflicts with its religious beliefs or moral conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

“We have a duty to govern and to govern in accordance with the Constitution as it has been determined by the Supreme Court decision,” said Brownback in a public statement justifying the order.

“We also recognise that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected.”

“While we disagree with the decision of the Supreme Court, it is important that all Kansans be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

However, many have questioned Brownback’s actions, as well as his misguided definition of what constitutes as discrimination.

“Having nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with enabling discrimination, this executive order is divisive, unnecessary, and sends the wrong message,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, told Washington Post.

Louise Melling of The American Civil Liberties Union, while withdrawing support from the Religious Freedoms bill, supported this idea, claiming “it is now often used as a sword to discriminate against women, gay and transgender people…”

“Religious liberty doesn’t mean the right to discriminate or to impose one’s views on others.”

Brownback is among the long list of growing Republicans who refuse to accept the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Earlier this week, anti-gay Republican and spray-tan fan Rick Santorum claimed that same-sex couples getting married in the US will “disrupt the foundation of the world”.