SB 1140 a trick - or treat - for pastors, conservatives?

Monday, October 8, 2012
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (

Though a new California law appears to give some protection for preachers, a former Presbyterian minister contends it may actually be a trick that could hurt them down the road.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed legislation that affirms clergy will not endanger their institution's non-profit status if they do not perform "gay weddings." Senator Mark Leno's (D-San Francisco) SB 1140 changes the definition of a marriage to a "personal relation arising out of a civil and not religious contract."

Cass, Dr. Gary ( Dr. Gary Cass of asserts the law is unnecessary.

"This becomes a very worrisome precedent. I don't need the state of California affirming rights that I already have, as if they've granted it to me," Cass submits. "I have those rights under the First Amendment, and I cannot be forced to perform any kind of ceremony -- and I didn't need the state of California to tell me that I have that right."

Pro-family groups are concerned that SB 1140 will eventually pave the way for same-sex "marriage" in the state.

"This law looks like it's intended to give cover to a judge who might rule in favor of same-sex marriage so that they can say,  Look -- there is no imposition on the clergy to perform these; it's even in the law of the state of California. Therefore, we can go ahead and pass same-sex marriage in the state of California, contrary to the will of the people,'" the conservative advocate warns.

The bill is supported by the state's largest homosexual-rights group, Equality California, and will take effect January 1.

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