AZ Legislator, Pastor Introduces Bill to Protect Churches That Oppose Same-Sex ‘Marriage’

Montenegro wsPHOENIX — A legislator in Arizona has introduced a bill that would protect churches in the state from being forced to perform same-sex ‘weddings.’

Representative Steve Montenegro (R-Litchfield Park), Associate Pastor and Youth Pastor at Surprise Apostolic Assembly, recently announced the First Freedom Act to ensure that pastors retain their First Amendment rights when it comes to the institution of marriage. The Act would make it illegal to “require a minister to solemnize a marriage inconsistent with a minister’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“The United States Supreme Court has ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act and allowed same-sex marriages to be performed in some states,” he wrote in a news release announcing the proposed bill. “Arizona’s Constitution is clear on this subject, but the willingness of federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, to rewrite state Constitutions threatens our most precious freedoms, specifically those found in the First Amendment.”

While Montenegro notes that there is no imminent threat to churches, he states that he wants to establish safeguards in advance should any issues arise.

“This is something that we’re doing preemptively,” he told the Arizona Capitol Times. “I believe that we need to make sure that we are protecting the rights of citizens, especially when it comes to pastors, matters of faith, matters of church and matters of what we believe.”

“There are a number of churches and ministers who have publicly campaigned for same-sex marriage and who have indicated a willingness to perform them,” Montenegro said. “There is no need to force churches and their officials to participate and Arizona’s First Freedom Act will ensure that those on the radical left will not be able to use same-sex marriage as a weapon against those churches whose teachings and beliefs are irreconcilably at odds with it.”

Montenegro has launched a website to promote the effort, as well as a Facebook page that appears to focus on religious freedom issues in general.

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As previously reported, a similar bill has been proposed in Utah by Representative Jacob Anderegg (R-Lehi) in light of increasing court rulings that interpret the equal protection clause of 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as trumping the 10th Amendment, which protects states’ rights.

“No religious organization, association, or society, and no individual acting in a role connected with a religious organization, association, or society, may be required or compelled to solemnize, officiate in, or recognize a marriage or religious rite of  marriage in violation of their right of conscience or their free exercise of religion,” the proposed amendment states.

Both Utah and Arizona are facing lawsuits challenging the states’ constitutional amendments regarding the institution of marriage. Utah officials are currently appealing to the 10th Circuit following a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby, who said that the state’s current laws “deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry.”

Eight homosexuals in Arizona filed a class action lawsuit earlier this month asserting that state laws violate the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The Arizona legislature passed a law in 1996 defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, and in 2008, voters approved a constitutional amendment 56 to 44 percent that reiterated the state’s stance on marriage.

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  • Joe Dunfee

    We need to enact legislation (and eventually amend our constitution) to help the courts to understand these things. And it can’t just be limited to actual church structures. These protection certainly need to be extended to para-church entities, and schools. I expect these laws would be fairly easy to enact.

    And it would be a little more difficult, but I would also want to extend these protections to individuals, such as cake decorators and wedding photographers. These businesses have been ordered to actively participate in an immoral wedding that is an abomination to their faith. This is quite different from a grocery store where the homosexual might purchase potato chips for the party after the ceremony.

    Of course, the Affordable Care Act is another similar assault on religious liberty. And similar legislation would protect people from this particular assault.

  • Ruth

    I believe with all my heart that the Bible is the word of God. I do not support same sex marriage because I believe that marriage was established by God our creator. He loves us all and perfectly created us as a man or woman to be united until death do us part. To Him be all the glory.

  • Linda Mueller

    Everyone has their own opinion about anything anyone writes. So here is my opinion: God almighty is the one that matters and he is the creator over this earth and every human. Humans think they have power over all this stuff, but everyone has to stand in front of God one day and he will be the judge. Now if you want to say something about my post, your more than welcome, but I believe in God and what He has given man to write in the bible. No one can over throw our Lord or what His word says. He is truth…

  • Mark

    Same sex ‘marriage’ laws should have included religious freedom protection from being forced to perform deviant marriage. If SS couples want to be ‘married’ they should at the local court house and NOT demand Christians and their churches to violate their religious freedom.

  • Gary

    If the courts could be trusted to uphold the Constitution, legislation like this would not be needed. Sadly, the federal judges don’t care what the US Constitution actually says. That is why they are legalizing ssm, and why our actual Constitutional rights are at peril.