Can Pastors and Churches Be Forced to Perform Same-Sex Marriages?

Can Pastors and Churches Be Forced to Perform Same-Sex Marriages?

The short answer: almost certainly not, at least for now. While churches are slightly more vulnerable than pastors in some areas, both have significant protection under the First Amendment and other provisions of law from being forced to perform same-sex marriages. Even following the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court held that states must issue licenses for same-sex marriages and recognize such licenses issued by other states, there is no significant risk that pastors and churches can be compelled by a court to solemnize, host, or perform a same-sex marriage ceremony. Obergefell is only binding on states, and did not decide any religious liberty question -- for pastors or anyone else. While religious liberty challenges are expected to occur going forward, they will likely be aimed at other religious entities and individuals first, as legal protections for pastors and churches are currently quite strong. This publication lays out cases and other provisions of law describing generally the protections available to pastors and churches.

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