Faith Community Braces for Impact of Gay Rulings

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The U.S. Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage have set the Christian community on edge, causing many to wonder how the rulings will impact religious freedom.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the move to erase part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act a bad decision and an example of judicial supremacy.

But President Barack Obama, while on tour in Africa, touted the verdicts as a victory for democracy. Nevertheless, the president acknowledged concerns about religious liberty.

"When it comes to people's personal views, and their religious faith we have to respect the diversity of views that are there," he said. "But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people -- I believe that everyone has to be treated equally."

Are these rulings really defeat for traditional marriage? Mat Staver, with Liberty Counsel, talks about this and more on CBN Newswatch, June 27.

But how that tension will play out is unclear.

What worries many in the Christian community is Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion that "animus" against gays motivated Congress to pass DOMA.

The Family Research Council now fears discrimination lawsuits will increase against Christians that don't support gay marriage.

Thomas Peters, with the National Organization for Marriage, said the president's narrow view of religious freedom is also a concern.

"Saying that you're not going to be forcing pastors to do same-sex marriage implies that Christians only have their rights when they're within their church walls," Peters told CBN News. "Christians have the full First Amendment rights to stand for marriage in the public square, in their businesses."

American Center for Law and Justice Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said he's already heard from a number of concerned pastors, but cautioned against overreacting.

"I think the reaction needs to be measured and that means, really, other than the federal benefits going -- and I'm not saying that's insignificant - it's the status quo as it was before. Thirty-eight states do not allow same-sex marriage."
   
What is clear is that change at the federal level is already underway.
   
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday the Pentagon is working to extend benefits to the spouses of gay military members.

Homosexual activists are also doing more than just celebrating. They've already filed legislation that would give gay married couples federal benefits in all 50 states.

The Respect for Marriage Act would effectively repeal DOMA by ensuring that "state of ceremony" trumps "state of residence."

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics.  Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.