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