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Thread: NJ rules against church group in gay rights case

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default NJ rules against church group in gay rights case

    MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. A church group that owns beachfront property discriminated against a lesbian couple by not allowing them to rent the locale for their civil union ceremony, a New Jersey department ruled Monday in a case that has become a flash point in the nation's gay rights battle.

    The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights said its investigation found that the refusal of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to rent the oceanfront spot to the couple for their same-sex union in March 2007 violated the public accommodation provisions of the state's Law Against Discrimination.

    While the ruling is decisively in favor of the couple, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster, it does not end the case. An administrative law judge still must decide on a remedy for the parties.

    "What this case has always been about from my clients' perspective has been equality," said Larry Lustberg, the lawyer for the couple. He said they will seek an order that requires the pavilion to be "open to all on an equal basis."

    Brian Raum, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based group that represents the Methodist organization, Camp Meeting Association, said his clients would keep pushing back against being forced to allow civil unions on the property.

    "Our position is the same," he said. "A Christian organization has a constitutional right to use their facilities in a way that is consistent with their beliefs."

    Meanwhile, the parties in the dispute are awaiting a ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether the issue should be decided in the division on civil rights or in federal courts. A lower federal court has ruled that the state could consider the case.

    The dispute has become a rallying point for both sides in the political battle over gay unions.

    Supporters of gay rights say the discrimination shows that New Jersey's two-year-old civil unions law falls short of its intent to give gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples.

    Earlier this month, a state commission headed by J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the director of the Division on Civil Rights and the author of Monday's ruling, recommended that the state allow gay couples full marriage rights.

    Opponents of gay marriage cite the case as a prime example of their contention that by recognizing same-sex couples, states are interfering with religious freedoms.

    "It's something we have to be careful about," said the Alliance Defense Fund's Raum. "As the rights of same-sex couples increase, the tendency is to have it conflict with the First Amendment rights of religious organizations."

    NJ rules against church group in gay rights case



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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Pfft, they had a hall that had nothing to do with any religious ceremony that they rented out to all sorts of people.. just not gay ones.

    They werent forced to perform any religious marriage or anything else of the sort. It was a hall on some property that they happened to own. It was not a religious edifice, not sanctified, or anything else.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    The funny thing is that this town, which I know- it's near my mom's town, was founded by fundamentalist Methodists, and now is primarily a gay resort town. Rainbow flags outside all the cottages in the summer, great shops, really quaint. It's a nice place, and what I thought of as tolerant - until this case.

    It's also a dry town...you have to walk across the little foot bridges to Asbury Park to get booze.



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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    foot bridges! *squeal*

    if that doesn't say gay, i dunno what does!
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    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    I side with the church on this one. For those who are not familiar with the term, "Camp Meeting" is a religious ceremony that takes place on property which is usually (but not always) a tabernacle surrounded by cabins. Families join together and stay at the cabins all week for one week of the year to worship and socialize with their extended families and other members of the religion. While the tabernacle in the center is usually owned by the organization, the cabins are individually owned.

    While it's not technically a "church," this is much more than a random piece of property, like the article tries to pass it off to be. It's considered very sacred by the people who attend Camp Meeting there. My cousins participate in one near their hometown, so I'm familiar with it.

    It is the religious institution's right to choose not to rent their property out to people who plan to use it for a ceremony which violates that religion's principles and beliefs.

    This is why many Christians do vote against gay marriage. They are opposed to situations such as this one, where churches or religious organizations are forced to facilitate and legitimize something that violates their religion. I personally find this extremely disturbing and I think it could set a precedent where religious institutions or churches no longer have the right to exercise their beliefs.

    I don't understand why, out of all of the beautiful resorts here, they would want to have their ceremony on property that clearly belongs to a fundamentalist Christian group, but I think it is absolutely that group's right to deny their request.
    Last edited by southernbelle; January 1st, 2009 at 10:18 PM.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    It's not a church. It's a hall on a separate plot of land that's rented out for all kinds of crap, not just for jesusnuts to get their jollies off on. Unless it's sanctified, it's not a religious ANYTHING.

    They can suck it. It's like a restaurant turning away someone for being black. Discrimination. Go courts, welcome sanity into the midst of those who would rather bury their heads in the sand.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    They've taken state and federal money, under NJ's Green Acres Program, and get $500,000 annual property tax exemption. In their application for these funds, the Camp Meeting Association reportedly stated that the disputed areas were open to the public.

    Either it's a public place or a private one. They can't have it both ways. Once they took the money they lost the right to discriminate.



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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    They'll try, and then hide behind religion. That's what they always do, and they've always gotten away with it until lately.
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimmlok View Post
    They'll try, and then hide behind religion. That's what they always do, and they've always gotten away with it until lately.
    Fine. Let them give up the tax exemption,then.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    BTW, to make it even more political the president of the Methodist Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is Scott Rassmussen, the Rassmussen Poll guy- and the founder of ESPN.



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    Gold Member ymeman's Avatar
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    what need does a church have for beachfront property? I went to church in a building that had wooden benches when I was growing up. I guess Jesus is movin' on up.

    As to the Christian thing, I'm still waiting for Jesus' opinion on homosexuality...

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    Elite Member southernbelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ymeman View Post
    what need does a church have for beachfront property? I went to church in a building that had wooden benches when I was growing up. I guess Jesus is movin' on up.

    As to the Christian thing, I'm still waiting for Jesus' opinion on homosexuality...
    Camp Meeting is a religious retreat or getaway that takes place in an outdoor location, so it makes sense that they would have beachfront property for this purpose.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Yes, they actually own all the land in this town.

    Ocean Grove was founded in 1869 as an outgrowth of the camp meeting movement in the United States, when a group of Methodist clergymen, led by William B. Osborn and Ellwood H. Stokes, formed the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to develop and operate a summer camp meeting site on the New Jersey seashore. The community's land is still owned by the camp meeting association and leased to individual homeowners and businesses. Ocean Grove remains the longest-active camp meeting site in the United States.

    The Camp Meeting still owns all the land in town and leases it to homeowners and businesses for 99-year renewable terms. The Camp Meeting Association currently keeps its beach closed on Sunday mornings between 8:30 am and 12:30 pm and Ocean Grove is still "dry", that is, the sale of all alcoholic beverages is prohibited.

    Ocean Grove, New Jersey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witchcurlgirl View Post
    They've taken state and federal money, under NJ's Green Acres Program, and get $500,000 annual property tax exemption. In their application for these funds, the Camp Meeting Association reportedly stated that the disputed areas were open to the public.

    Either it's a public place or a private one. They can't have it both ways. Once they took the money they lost the right to discriminate.
    Exactly! What dumbasses! There'd be no difference in this case if it was Mormons owning the land and saying that black people couldn't rent out the property for their "religious reasons" because black people have "the mark of Cain."

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    Gold Member ymeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by southernbelle View Post
    Camp Meeting is a religious retreat or getaway that takes place in an outdoor location, so it makes sense that they would have beachfront property for this purpose.

    Well hot damn, tell that to all the appalachian people pissing off their porches. They are entitled to pee in the ocean, I guess.

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