An Ohio lawmaker has proposed a bill
that would protect clergy opposed to marriage equality from marrying
gay and lesbian couples.
State Rep. Nino Vitale's Pastor
Protection Act would ensure that clergy can't be forced into
performing ceremonies they're opposed to based on their faith.
While Vitale told Ohio
Public Radio's Karen Kasler that his bill “doesn't deal with
homosexuality specifically,” the Rev. Tim Throckmorton, pastor at
Crossroads Church in Circleville and a board member of Citizens for
Community Values (CCV), the conservative group that put Ohio's gay
marriage ban on the 2004 ballot, said he worries about being sued for
turning away gay couples who wish to wed.
“If they would take that the wrong
way, get offended, perhaps they could issue a lawsuit or a lawsuit
could come toward our church or toward me, and then as it works its
way up the court – quite honestly I'm concerned because I don't
feel the court made a good decision here,” he said, a reference to
the Supreme Court ruling that struck down state bans limiting
marriage to heterosexual couples.
The Rev. Tim Ahrens, the pastor at
First Congregation Church, United Church of Christ in downtown
Columbus, called the legislation unnecessary.
“There will be no lawsuit,” said
Ahrens, a marriage equality supporter. “Someone who is gay will
not go to a pastor who does not want to marry them. That's just