by Dan Savage
on Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 10:33 AM
Indiana is threatening to throw priests and pastors and rabbis in jail for acting on their sincerely held religious beliefs concerning same-sex marriage. But—surprise!—it's not clergy members who oppose same-sex marriage who are being threatened with fines and jail time. Think Progress:
Same-sex marriage is already against the law in Indiana, and Republican lawmakers still plan to advance a constitutional amendment next year solidifying that ban. Still, it seems that is not enough, and some changes to the law made this week may lead to gay people and religious leaders being criminally punished for trying to marry. An update to the state’s criminal code classifies that it’s a Level 6 felony if someone submits false information or lies on a marriage license application. Because the form specifies one “male applicant” and “one female” applicant, a same-sex couple could not actually use the form as its written. If a couple were thus to attempt to submit an application in protest of the state ban, they could face a maximum of 18 months in prison and a potential fine of up to $10,000.
The law actually has some particularly troubling language for clergy as well. Even if state law doesn’t legally recognize same-sex marriages, religious organizations have always been free to at least recognize them within their faith. That may not be so true in Indiana, where the new criminal code says that anyone “who knowingly solemnizes” a same-sex marriage is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Thus, if an Episcopal church, for example, decided to celebrate the union of two of its gay congregants, the priest would be in violation of the law.
Indiana's plan to toss pastors and priests in jail for marrying same-sex couples seems just a wee bit more consequential, religious-liberty-wise, than Christian florists being asked to obey anti-discrimination statutes that pre-date marriage equality laws. So where's the outrage from NOM, FRC, AFA, AFTAH, and the rest of the haters' alphabet soup?
Indiana is also threatening to throw same-sex couples who apply for marriage licenses—a common protest technique—into jail. But ho hum to that, right?