A provision in New York’s legislation would protect Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, above, and other religious institutions from lawsuits if they refused to perform same-sex marriages.
Language protecting New York churches, synagogues and other religious institutions from lawsuit and penalty upon refusal to perform same-sex marriages was one of the key amendments that won Republican support for Friday’s historic gay rights legislation. The new law contains an inseverability clause, which binds all parts of the measure together. If the religious exemptions were ever successfully challenged in court, then all other aspects of the law, including its important gain for civil rights, could also be deemed invalid. —ARK
The New York Times:
The Republicans who insisted on the provision did not only want religious organizations and affiliated groups to be protected from lawsuits if they refused to provide their buildings or services for same-sex marriage ceremonies, they also wanted them to be spared any penalties by state government. That would mean, for example, a church that declined to accommodate same-sex weddings could not be penalized later with the loss of state aid for the social service programs it administers.
... The amendment that was passed stated that barring access to same-sex ceremonies, or failing to provide services for them, would not “result in any state or local government action to penalize, withhold benefits, or discriminate against such religious corporation, benevolent order, a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised or controlled by a religious corporation.”
... Finally, the legislation contained what is known as an inseverability clause. If a court found any part of the act to be invalid, the entire legislation would also be invalid. The clause is an important provision to Republicans because it means that the marriage legislation would be at risk if the religious exemptions were successfully challenged in court.