Bill to ‘pro­tect’ clergy from per­form­ing same-sex mar­riages

GA Voice - - News Briefs - www.thege­or­giavoice.com

House Speaker David Ral­ston (R-Blue Ridge) has told his fel­low House Repub­li­cans that he wants them to adopt a “pas­tor’s pro­tec­tion act” en­sur­ing no faith leader can be forced to per­form a same-sex wed­ding—even though clergy al­ready ap­pear to have that pro­tec­tion.

The com­ments came at a cau­cus meet­ing on July 11 in Jekyll Is­land, ac­cord­ing to the AJC. Ral­ston said he planned on ad­vo­cat­ing for the bill when the 2016 leg­isla­tive ses­sion be­gins in Jan­uary.

How­ever, it ap­pears that faith lead­ers al­ready have those pro­tec­tions un­der the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion.

“The First Amend­ment al­ready pro­tects the right of pas­tors to de­cline sol­em­niz­ing any mar­riage in­con­sis­tent with the tenets of their faith. Oberge­fell did not change that fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple,” out con­sti­tu­tional scholar An­thony Kreis tells Ge­or­gia Voice. “It was al­ways per­mis­si­ble, for ex­am­ple, for a rabbi to refuse to per­form a mar­riage for an in­ter­faith cou­ple notwith­stand­ing their con­sti­tu­tional right to marry civilly.”

Ge­or­gia Voice found in­stances in the past of faith lead­ers re­fus­ing to per­form in­ter­ra­cial mar­riages as well, and do­ing so with­out con­se­quence. And the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil, who are des­ig­nated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, have a page on their web­site ded­i­cated to as­sur­ing mem­bers of the clergy and other con­cerned par­ties.

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