Warren says she would not strip churches that oppose gay marriage of tax exemption

Warren says she would not strip churches that oppose gay marriage of tax exemption
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White House hopeful Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders over handling of feud with Warren On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans MORE (D-Mass.) came out against a plan from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-Texas), who is also running for president, to strip churches or other religious entities of their tax-exempt status if they decline to perform same-sex marriages. 

“Elizabeth will stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ+ community” to help stamp out “fear of discrimination and violence,” Warren campaign spokeswoman Saloni Sharma said in a statement to The Hill Tuesday. 

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“Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax-exempt status,” Sharma added. 

Religion News Service was the first to report Warren's stance on O’Rourke’s plan.

O’Rourke raised eyebrows last week when he said he thought that religious institutions that refuse to perform same-sex marriages should lose their tax-exempt status.

“There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break, for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us,” he said. “As president, we're going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.”

O’Rourke has faced bipartisan criticism over the remarks, with some saying his plan would threaten religious freedom. In a sign the issue has the chance of becoming a point of attack in the campaign, President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE dubbed O’Rourke a “wacko” over the comments.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hill.TV's Krystal Ball on Sanders-Warren feud: 'Don't play to the pundits, play to voters' Poll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire MORE, the only openly gay candidate in the Democratic primary field, also came out against O’Rourke’s remarks, saying they only "deepen the divisions we’re already experiencing."

“I agree that anti-discrimination law ought to be applied to all institutions. But the idea that you’re going to strip churches of their tax exempt status if they haven’t found their way towards blessing same-sex marriage, I’m not sure [O'Rourke] understood the implications of what he was saying,” Buttigieg said Sunday. 

“That means going to war not only with churches, but I would think with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do. But also because of the separation of church and state are acknowledged as nonprofits in this country,” he added.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders, Warren feud rattles Democrats The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (D-N.J.), another White House contender, also declined to endorse the plan last week but did not officially say he was against it, telling CNN, “I’m not saying, because I know this is a long legal battle.”

O'Rourke later clarified his stance, saying that any religious organization takes action to discriminate when delivering public services based on sexual orientation or gender identity could they lose their tax-exemption, but that a church that declines to conduct a same-sex marriage would not see their tax-exempt status challenged.  

Warren, O'Rourke, Buttigieg, Booker and eight other Democratic candidates will take the stage Tuesday night in Ohio for the fourth Democratic primary debate.