Lesbian Lawsuit Aganist Methodist Group Proceeds
Special Report - January 5, 2009
The New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (NJDCR) ruled against a Christian camp for refusing to allow its facilities to be used for a civil union ceremony between a lesbian couple. In a December 29, 2008 ruling, J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, Director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, found Probable Cause of unlawful discrimination. According to the ruling, Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA) violated New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by refusing use of the Boardwalk Pavilion, owned by OGCMA, for a civil union ceremony in March 2007. Vespa-Papaleo argued that since OGCMA registered Boardwalk Pavilion as a public-use facility, OGCMA could not discriminate against same-sex couples while allowing other couples to wed there.
The NJDCR ruled, “Accordingly, given the strong evidence that the [OGCMA] intentionally makes the Pavilion available for public use and does not dedicate it solely to the practice of religion, the LAD, a neutral law of general application, does not unconstitutionally impair the [OGCMA’s] right to the free exercise of religion.” Additionally, they announced in a press release that “[a] finding of Probable Cause does not resolve a civil rights complaint. Rather, it means the state has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) has been violated.”
In a similar case filed against OGCMA in April 2007, the NJDCR did not find probable cause of discrimination because the OCGMA had “ceased granting permission to anyone for use of the Boardwalk Pavilion for weddings or similar events.”
“These cases reinforce the fact that North Carolina should not pass any anti discrimination laws that at the same time affirm or encourage harmful behavior by including language relating to sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Jere Royall, counsel for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Sexual activity outside of marriage is harmful spiritually, physically, and psychologically. To seek to prohibit viewpoints reflecting this understanding would be a violation of the Constitutional freedoms of speech and religion.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.