Monday, December 5, 2016

Ohio's "Pastor Protection Act" is pass or die

Legislators in Ohio have until December 8 to pass HB 286 — “Pastor Protection Act” — or it dies until the next session. Pastor Protection Acts are believed to be boilerplate that originates from Alliance Defending Freedom and similar measure were introduced around the nation as a reaction to the Supreme Court's 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges which established national marriage equality. These bills were often then combined with License-to-Discriminate legislation, often preempting and nullifying municipal nondiscrimination ordinances. Some folks in the gay community have labeled these bills as “Obergefell revenge” legislation.

Pastors do not receive any additional protections. The First Amendment provides the right to deny performing any marriage that does not conform to their religious beliefs. The Ohio bill is particularly troubling because it establishes a right to refuse service by a “religious society” without defining what that means.

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