Urbana lawmaker backs bill to protect ministers from having to perform gay weddings

State Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana

An Urbana lawmaker’s bill that he says will protect ministers and religious organizations from being forced to perform gay weddings is set for its first hearing at the statehouse this morning.

Republican Nino Vitale introduced the bill last summer after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationally. Vitale’s bill would allow pastors and ministers to decline officiating gay weddings. Some experts say the bill is not needed because that protection already lies in the First Amendment.

Here’s a story reporter Matt Sanctis did in July when Vitale introduced the bill.

Sanctis reported this summer that Vitale’s bill is similar to legislation that has already been approved in Texas, he said. Even if clergy members are already protected, the lawmaker said the bill would provide an extra layer of clarity.

“What I think makes Ohio and America great is we’re a great melting pot,” Vitale said. “We have different faith communities, we have different religions, we have different ethnicities. We’ve been living in relative harmony in this country for a long, long time and I just don’t want to see people suing each other.”

The bill would not apply to business such as bakeries and florists.

Here’s the description of House Bill 286:

To provide that an ordained or licensed minister or religious society is not required to solemnize a marriage and a religious society is not required to allow any building or property of the religious society to be used to host a marriage ceremony if the marriage does not conform to the ordained or licensed minister’s or religious society’s sincerely held religious beliefs, to provide that an ordained or licensed minister or religious society is not subject to civil or criminal liability for such a denial, and to provide that the state and political subdivisions may not penalize or withhold benefits to an ordained or licensed minister or religious society for such a denial

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