Adoption services: A same-sex couple
in California applied to Adoption Profiles, an Internet service in
Arizona that matches adoptive parents with newborns. The couple’s
application was denied based on the religious beliefs of the company’s
owners. The couple sued in federal district court in San Francisco. The
two sides settled after the adoption company said it will no longer do
business in California.
A same sex couple in Albuquerque asked a photographer, Elaine Huguenin,
to shoot their commitment ceremony. The photographer declined, saying
her Christian beliefs prevented her from sanctioning same-sex unions.
The couple sued, and the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found the
photographer guilty of discrimination. It ordered her to pay the lesbian
couple’s legal fees ($6,600). The photographer is appealing.
Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of New Jersey, a Methodist
organization, refused to rent its boardwalk pavilion to a lesbian couple
for their civil union ceremony. The couple filed a complaint with the
New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. The division ruled that the
boardwalk property was open for public use, therefore the Methodist
group could not discriminate against gay couples using it. In the
interim, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection revoked a
portion of the association’s tax benefits. The case is ongoing.
The city of Berkeley, Calif., requested that the Sea Scouts (affiliated
with the Boy Scouts) formally agree to not discriminate against gay men
in exchange for free use of berths in the city’s marina. The Sea Scouts
sued, claiming this violated their beliefs and First Amendment right to
the freedom to associate with other like-minded people. In 2006, the
California Supreme Court ruled against the youth group. In San Diego,
the Boy Scouts lost access to the city-owned aquatic center for the same
reason. While these cases do not directly involve same-sex unions, they
presage future conflicts about whether religiously oriented or
parachurch organizations may prohibit, for example, gay couples from
teaching at summer camp. In June 2008, the federal Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeals asked the California Supreme Court to review the Boy Scouts’
leases. Meanwhile, the mayor’s office in Philadelphia revoked the Boy
Scouts’ $1-a-year lease for a city building.
A Christian gynecologist at North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group in
Vista, Calif., refused to give his patient in vitro fertilization
treatment because she is in a lesbian relationship, and he claimed that
doing so would violate his religious beliefs. (The doctor referred the
patient to his partner, who agreed to do the treatment.) The woman sued
under the state’s civil rights act. The California Supreme Court heard
oral arguments in May 2008, and legal experts believe that the woman’s
right to medical treatment will trump the doctor’s religious beliefs.
One justice suggested that the doctors take up a different line of
Psychological services: A
mental health counselor at North Mississippi Health Services refused
therapy for a woman who wanted help in improving her lesbian
relationship. The counselor said doing so would violate her religious
beliefs. The counselor was fired. In March 2001, the United States Court
of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sided with the employer, ruling that
the employee’s religious beliefs could not be accommodated without
causing undue hardship to the company.
In New York City, Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of
Medicine, a school under Orthodox Jewish auspices, banned same-sex
couples from its married dormitory. [At the time, New York did not] recognize same-sex
marriage, but in 2001, the state’s highest court ruled Yeshiva violated
New York City’s ban on sexual orientation discrimination. Yeshiva now
allows all couples in the dorm