A New Jersey Church that refused to allow two women to hold a civil-union ceremony on its property four years ago broke the law, a state administrative law judge said Thursday.
Since the judge works for the state’s Division on Civil Rights, his opinion doesn’t have the force of one coming from a state or federal court — but the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, is considering its next steps in protecting the church’s religious rights.
“The government should not be able to force a private Christian organization to use its property in a way that would violate its own religious beliefs,” Litigation Staff Counsel Jim Campbell said. “Religious groups have the right to use their private property in a way that is consistent with their beliefs. That right, protected by both the New Jersey and U.S. Constitutions, obviously trumps any law enacted by the state’s legislature.”
The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights has 45 days to adopt, modify or reject the ruling. If the director takes no action, it automatically becomes final.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the Bernstein v. Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association ruling.