IRS could revoke non-profit status for religious institutions over same-sex marriage


Thursday, June 27, 2013
by BEN SHAPIRO 26 Jun 2013
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
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.
In 1983, the Supreme Court ruled in Bob Jones University v. United States that it was
within the scope of the First Amendment’s protections for religion for the IRS to revoke
the tax exempt status for the university based on its policy prohibiting interracial dating.
The Court determined that the “Government has a fundamental, overriding interest in
eradicating racial discrimination in education … which substantially outweighs whatever
burden denial of tax benefits places on [the university’s] exercise of their religious beliefs.”
The Supreme Court is clearly leaning toward a similar move here. The Court stated in
Romer v. Evans (1996) that states could not take measures to prevent future distinction of
gays and lesbians as a protected class under state law; in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) the
Court ruled that same-sex sexual activity was Constitutionally protected; in the DOMA
case on Wednesday, the Court ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional not merely on
federalism grounds, but because it violated the equal protection clause of the 14
amendment and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
On the state level, a movement is already under way to revoke non-profit status for
religious organizations that do not abide by the same-sex marriage. In Massachusetts in
2006, Boston Catholic Charities withdrew from adoption services thanks to the state
mandate on same-sex adoptions, rather than fight the issue in court. In California, a bill is
already making its way through the legislature to bar non-profit status for any religious
youth group that discriminates on the basis of “gender identity, race, sexual orientation,
nationality, religion, or religious affiliation.”