State Senator Greg Ball, a Republican who same-sex marriage advocates thought could ultimately become a “yes” vote, is out with a statement reiterating his objections to the bill in its current form.
“If this truly is a priority for the Governor, and not just another throw away effort to jazz up his political base, he needs to take a second look at the real need for religious exemptions. The bill, as it stands now, is an affront to religious organizations and would open up a new era of lawsuits against individuals and religious organizations.”
Ball’s critique of Cuomo’s legislation:
1. Governor’s language does not protect church-related agencies from denial of funding by state and local government agencies to provide charitable and health services, or allow them to make hiring and benefits decisions based on religious beliefs. Most of these religious-affiliated groups are incorporated under the Not for Profit Corporation Law, not just the Religious Corporation Law and Education Law.
2. The exemption given for church halls and facilities of benevolent orders is limited. It does not protect religious or benevolent orders from challenges to tax exempt status. (POINT: This occurred in NJ – when a Methodist Church refused use of facilities for same sex marriage). Nor would the current bill protect against local human rights/public accommodations laws.
3. The exemption language in the Governor’s bill does not rule out enforcement actions by regulatory agencies (POINT: Examples include denial of licenses to provide services).