WASHINGTON (BP) -- Gay marriage became legal in Minnesota and Rhode Island after both legislatures approved the unions, extending gay marriage to 13 states and the District of Columbia.
"This is a sad day in Minnesota and Rhode Island as politicians have allowed a mockery to be made of the institution of marriage, which throughout our history has been our only social institution to bring men and women together for the benefit of any children born of their union," Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a written statement Aug. 1.
"Today Minnesota and Rhode Island embark on a new path that jettisons the interests of children from their state marriage law, and puts people of faith in harm's way for being punished for their beliefs. We will work tirelessly to hold the politicians accountable for this travesty," Brown said.
Gay couples in Minnesota married as early as 12:01 a.m. Aug. 1 in locations including the Minneapolis City Hall, St. Paul's Como Park, the Mall of America's Chapel of Love and at many county courthouses, The Washington Post reported. Officials in the state estimated 5,000 gay couples would marry there in the first year.
Ceremonies in Rhode Island were performed as early as 8:30 a.m. Aug. 1 when municipal offices opened, the Christian Science Monitor reported, citing speculation that many gays there had already married in neighboring states where the practice was legalized.
Brown predicted the changes in law will lead to the criminalization of the Christian view of marriage as between one man and one woman.
"It's only a matter of time before people of faith are targeted for punishment by government officials, and cease to enjoy the full rights of citizenship because they believe what their faith teaches them -- that marriage can only be between one man and one woman," Brown said.
"Based on what has already happened elsewhere, we predict that people of faith will face lawsuits, lose contracts, be denied employment and be forced to stop providing goods and services. Charities will be forced to close," Brown said.
The National Organization for Marriage has pledged to spend up to $600,000 to publicize politicians' voting records on gay marriage in Minnesota and Rhode Island.
"Virtually no politician in Minnesota or Rhode Island ran on a platform that openly pledged that he or she would redefine marriage if elected to office," Brown said. "Yet, when given the opportunity, they did so....
"When the inevitable consequences happen, we will make sure that voters know who is responsible for them," Brown said. "This issue is far from settled in either of these states."
Already, the Minnesota Human Rights Commission has issued guidelines making no exceptions for religious or conscience objections for individuals, according to NOM. Rhode Island's marriage law similarly allows no exceptions for individuals or small businesses, NOM reported.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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