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Print's Shapiro Imagines Churches Will Now Be Forced To Perform Same-Sex Weddings

June 27, 2013 3:16 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Conservative commentator and all-around homophobe Ben Shapiro is convinced that the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will result in the IRS rescinding non-profit tax exemptions from churches across the country – a delusional horror story that could really only be concocted by someone who works as editor-at-large for Breitbart News.

In a June 26 post for, Shapiro warned that the end of DOMA will result in the IRS targeting the non-profit tax exemptions of churches that refuse to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies:

Based on Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling, in which the Court majority determined that the Defense of Marriage Act’s federal definition of marriage had to incorporate state-based same-sex marriages, Internal Revenue Service regulations could be modified to remove non-profit status for churches across the country.

The DOMA decision makes clear that marriage is a state-to-state issue, meaning that religious institutions that receive non-profit status on the federal level but do not perform or accept same-sex marriages in states where it is legal could have non-profit status revoked. Furthermore, should the IRS move to revoke federal non-profit status for churches, synagogues and mosques that do not perform same-sex marriage more generally, the Court could easily justify that decision on the basis of “eradicating discrimination” in religious education.

A few things to note here:

1. The DOMA Decision Had Nothing To Do With Tax Exempt Statuses For Churches. The Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. United States dealt exclusively with whether the federal government should be allowed to deny federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their state. Allowing married gay couples to file joint tax returns has nothing at all to do with whether churches are required to perform same-sex weddings to maintain their tax exemptions.

2. Every State With Marriage Equality Already Has Exemptions For Churches. In every single state that’s legalized marriage equality, churches are exempt from having to perform same-sex weddings. No church in America has ever, ever been forced to perform a same-sex wedding. Laws like DOMA only deal with the civil definition of marriage, not the religious celebration of weddings.

As evidence of his claim, Shapiro cites two incidents.

The first is the 1983 Supreme Court decision in Bob Jones University v. United States, in which a religious school lost its tax exempt status due to its ban on interracial dating. What Shapiro fails to mention is that the decision explicitly excluded churches from its scope:

We deal here only with religious schools - not with churches or other purely religious institutions.

Shapiro also cites the case of Boston Catholic Charities, which voluntarily withdrew from adoption services rather than serve same-sex couples. Again, that incident didn’t deal with a church, and has been debunked for a number of other reasons.

Shapiro joins a long line of conservative commentators in confusing civil marriage with religious marriage ceremonies, as well as confusing marriage laws with anti-discrimination laws


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