The Alabama House has approved a bill
that seeks to allow officials such as judges and ministers to refuse
to perform a marriage ceremony.
Opponents of the Freedom of Religion in
Marriage Protection Act say it's another effort to prevent gay
couples from marrying in the state.
The legislative proposal cleared the
House on Thursday with a 69-25 vote after a contentious debate that
lasted nearly four hours, AL.com
reported. The measure now heads to the Senate.
During the debate, state Rep. Patricia
Todd, Alabama's only openly gay House member, called the bill “very
“Alabama isn't exactly the most
progressive state in the country,” she told Yahoo
News. “We are constantly the laughingstock of the country, and
this continues that tradition.”
Todd said that the bill was unnecessary
since officials already have the right to refuse to perform wedding
“The reality is this was just
pandering to their constituents so they could say they stood up on
same-sex marriage when it didn't do anything,” she said.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Jim
Hill, told colleagues that he simply wanted to “clarify” existing
After a federal judge struck down
Alabama's restrictive marriage ban and gay couples began marrying,
the Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing such
equality supporters responded by filing a class action lawsuit.
S. Moore: Gays can marry a person of the opposite sex.)