After passage in the Ohio House in June, the Senate is now considering a bill that would protect clergy opposed to 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. The bill's current language only applies to minister and religious societies.

Supporters say such a law is needed to ensure that pastors opposed to same-sex marriage are not forced into marrying gay couples. Opponents say the bill is unnecessary and undermines marriage equality.

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, told Ohio Public Radio in June that 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.

Ohio Equality, Ohio's largest LGBT rights advocate, called the bill an “insult” to LGBT Ohioans.

Ohio Equality Executive Director Alana Jochum said in a statement that the bill “threatens to weaken certain civil rights protections for all couples, not just LGBTQ couples.”

“The Pastor Protection Act expressly undermines the protections Ohioans have had for decades with regards to race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age and ancestry,” Jochum said. “In an attempt to marginalize same-sex couples, some Ohio legislators are considering undermining the state's entire civil rights legacy.”

The Rev. Tim Ahrens, the pastor at First Congregation Church, United Church of Christ in downtown Columbus, previously 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 crazy.”