So I saw one of the ads for proposition 8 last night, and I was aghast at a few of its claims. First, according to the ad, if proposition 8 does not pass, then some churches might lose their tax-exempt status. Second, the ad claims that churches will be forced to marry gay couples.
These claims are completely false. They are so far from even having even an aspect of "truthiness" that it just boggles my mind that someone said it was ok to run these ads.
First, the tax exempt status thing. Churches, as non-profit entities, are allowed to discuss legislation and politics generally, and can even support legislation, but they are not allowed to endorse specific parties or candidates without risking their tax exempt status. So their claim that the rejection of proposition 8 will cause them to lose that status is just completely false. Proposition 8 is completely unrelated to whether a church remains tax exempt. As long as these churches don't turn unabashedly republican and start going partisan in the pulpit, they have nothing to worry about. But that is completely independent of Proposition 8 or same sex marriage generally.
In any event, the tax status of churches is a matter of federal law, not state. So the passage of proposition 8 has no bearing one way or another on how the IRS handles the tax exempt status of churches.
Second, the Supreme Court said explicitly in the decision that no religion would be forced to conduct same sex marriages if it was against their faith:
“[A]ffording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.”The fact of the matter is that since the Supreme Court decision in May of this year, same sex marriages have been conducted. No churches have been forced to marry anyone they didn't want to, and no churches have suddenly lost their tax exempt status. Proponents of proposition 8 are just trying to scare with outrageous fabrications. Don't let them fool you!
Although, I must admit, the "yes" on prop 8 track suit is pretty spiffy.