New Jersey church camp loses lesbian case

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TRENTON, N.J. (EP) — The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights has ruled in favor of a lesbian couple that filed a civil rights complaint against Ocean Grove Camp Ground Association in New Jersey for declining to host a same-sex ceremony.

The division ruled that the action violated the public accommodation provisions of the state's law against discrimination.

According to the Associated Press, the ruling does not end the case and an administrative law judge still must decide on a remedy for the parties.

New Jersey law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation. The privately owned campground, which is operated by United Methodists, points to The United Methodist Church's official disapproval of same-sex unions.

New Jersey officials and newspapers have denounced the Ocean Grove Camp Ground Association for not allowing a same-sex ceremony at a boardwalk pavilion primarily used for worship-oriented events. The campground was founded by Methodists in the 19th century as a place for spiritual revival.

"United Methodist Church leaders everywhere should stand up for Ocean Grove's religious and civil liberties when it attempts to uphold United Methodist beliefs," said Mark Tooley, with United Methodist Action, a division of the Institute for Religion and Democracy. "Currently, United Methodist churches are prohibited by church law from celebrating same-sex unions. How much longer before the intrusive arm of government attempts to override church policies in the name of 'tolerance'?

"The Ocean Grove Camp Ground Association has not limited the use of its boardwalk pavilion to any person; rather it has prohibited some behavior, according to the principles of the United Methodist Church. The Ocean Grove controversy is yet another example of how pleas for 'tolerance' too often morph into new and insidious forms of intolerance."

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