A bill that would protect clergy
opposed to same-sex marriage from marrying gay and lesbian couples
cleared the Ohio House on Wednesday with a 59-29 vote.
On Tuesday, House Bill 36, the “Ohio
Pastor Protection Act,” suddenly cleared the House committee where
it had languished since February.
State Rep. Nino Vitale's bill would
ensure that clergy can't be forced into performing ceremonies they're
opposed to based on their faith.
“Do we want Ohio to be a state that
imposes something on pastors that is against their deeply held
religious beliefs?” Vitale told The
“This is not a sword. This bill is
intended to be a shield to protect everyone’s rights. Are we going
to allow groups to sue each other and use the heavy hand of the
courts?” he added.
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