A state lawmaker who also is a pastor unveiled legislation today designed to protect him and other religious leaders from being forced to marry same-sex couples. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.
Rep. Steve Montenegro acknowledged there is currently no danger of such a mandate. The actions of the U.S. Supreme Court in requiring the federal government to recognize gay nuptials performed in states where legal left untouched Arizona’s own constitutional ban on such unions. But, Montenegro said federal courts have increasingly overturned state bans, most recently in Utah. And, he pointed to a lawsuit filed there against the Church of Latter-Day Saints accusing it and the state of conspiring to deprive gays of the freedom to marry. He wants to do what he can to cut off that possibility before it occurs here.
“You would agree with me that there are many things that both of us would say, ‘Wow. I didn’t see that coming. We never thought we would get to see that. But we’ve seen it,” Montenegro said.
Montenegro conceded that even if his measure becomes law that does not preclude a court from declaring it unconstitutional. But, he said legislators still need to make the effort.
“As representatives of the people here in Arizona, we want to make sure we’re doing our part to protect the religious freedoms of pastors, ministers and the churches,” Montenegro said.