For churches that won't perform gay weddings, insurance begins to look iffy

It is unusual for an insurer to deny purely hypothetical claims. Typically, coverage decisions are made only after evaluating the claims in the complaint and the terms of the insurance policy. Indeed, when National Review reached out to other church insurers to see if they had made similar communications to their insureds, State Farm responded simply: “It can be confusing to customers to publicly address broad, hypothetical situations. Every claim is assessed on its own merits, in line with the language of the policy, coverages, and endorsements purchased.” Other church-insurance companies, including Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company and Church Mutual Insurance Company, stated that they had made no blanket communications to their insureds regarding coverage. Brotherhood did, however, post a brief legal analysis of Obergefell that included suggested steps for avoiding litigation.

Moreover, if past practice is any guide, litigants are very likely to allege that they suffered “personal injury” if a church refuses to perform or host their wedding ceremony. Indeed, in the Oregon bakery case, the lesbian couple alleged an array of injuries, including “impaired digestion,” “high blood pressure,” “excessive sleep,” “migraine headaches,” and “anxiety.” And those allegations were over a mere cake (a cake they were able to immediately replace), not the entire wedding.