While some religions and denominations are open to sexuality and gender identities, other churches and denominations continue to adhere to their beliefs regarding the stance of their faith on homosexuality. These churches believe it should be within their rights to refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies.
Unfortunately, public opinion does not seem to be on their side. In the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges, many churches and pastors now find themselves having to consider one of two possibilities:
- Conform to the pressure from forces outside said church to perform gay marriages, which would fly directly in the face of their beliefs.
- Suffer a variety of substantial, destructive legal consequences.
If a church does refuse to perform a wedding, and they are sued, there are a few things that can happen in the aftermath of this scenario.
Will Church Insurance Defend Churches Who Refuse To Perform Gay Marriages?
Like any other corporation, churches must consider liability threats. At the same time, they must also keep in mind the potential destruction that can befall any church who is forced to pay the sometimes-heavy costs that are associated with litigation.
As same-sex marriage is now recognized as a constitutional right, many churches are understandably concerned about where this leaves them, in terms of liability. Indeed, the subject of liability insurance in this arena seems to be quite confusing. Many known insurers of churches have made either blanket statements regarding the issue, or they have refused to address it altogether. In the case of Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, suggestions were offered to churches that were eager to avoid litigation.
In terms of liability insurance for churches sued for refusing gay marriage ceremonies, the answer seems to vary from one carrier to the next. One of the main concerns of these churches revolves around the notion of not receiving legal protection, in the event of lawsuit, since no actual injury or damage has been alleged. To that end, Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company has an intriguing alternative to offer churches.
Miscellaneous Legal Defense Coverage
Churches who are concerned over the prospect of being sued for refusing to accept a gay marriage ceremony within their walls may want to consider Miscellaneous Legal Defense Coverage. While this can provide some relief to churches who feel that their religious freedom liberties are under attack, there are several components to this avenue that one is going to want to keep in mind.
For example, Miscellaneous Legal Defense Coverage is not the same as liability insurance. This is because in the scenario we are describing, bodily injuries, property damages, or advertising injuries do not apply. The main benefit to opting for Miscellaneous Legal Defense Coverage is that it is an expense reimbursement for defense expenses.
Southern Mutual remains the main champion of this alternative to liability insurance. The insurer made it abundantly clear that they had no intentions of abandoning the churches that rely on them for various forms of legal protection. Taking things a step further, Southern Mutual offered the add-on to interested churches at a considerable discount of fifty percent. However, it is worth noting that the add-on would not extend to fines and payments handed down by courts.
Southern Mutual is just one insurer of churches and religious organizations, but there is no question that they are one of the heavyweights in the insurance industry. While still providing protection for the first church Southern Mutual extended itself to in the year of 1928, the company currently offers legal assistance to approximately 8400 churches, synagogues, and mosques. In the end, this is a situation that is going to be well worth paying attention to, over the coming months.