Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Methodist Pavillion Loses Tax Exemption For Refusing To Host Civil Unions

New Jersey's Commissioner of Environmental Protection has refused to renew the real estate tax exemption for the Ocean Grove Boardwalk Pavilion which is operated by an organization affiliated with the Methodist Church, according to an article yesterday in Edge. The exemption denial came because the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA) that owns the Pavilion has refused on religious grounds to make it available for same-sex couples to use for civil union ceremonies. Two lesbian couples have filed a complaint with the state Division of Civil Rights arguing that the Pavilion is a public accommodation subject to the state's non-discrimination laws. The Pavilion is broadly used by the public, but is also used by OGCMA for Sunday worship services and a Youth Ministry program. Last month a federal judge refused to order a halt to the state's civil rights investigation. The real estate tax exemption for the rest of the boardwalk and the beach, both of which are also owned by OCGMA, however were renewed. (See prior related posting.)