‘Pastor Protection Act’ passes in Georgia House
A bill that would keep religious officials from being required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies passed 161–0 in the House on Feb. 11. It was the first of eight religious exemption bills under consideration in the legislature to reach the chamber for a vote, and a move that widens the national spotlight on Georgia’s legislative reaction to last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.
House Bill 757 was first suggested last summer by House Speaker David Ralston following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) introduced the bill in January, and it breezed through a House subcommittee before making it through the full House Judiciary Committee.
While there is nothing in state or federal law that would require religious officials to perform such ceremonies, Tanner has said he’s heard concerns from those who fear the opposite, and that HB 757 is meant to alleviate that “unease.”
Several lawmakers took the opportunity to speak out in favor of the bill on the House floor Thursday, reciting Bible passages and making it seem more like a church service than a legislative day.
While many consider the bill the least controversial of the religious exemption bills, some legal scholars worried that Section 3 of the bill was too broad and could allow religious organizations to discriminate against the LGBT community.
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