Hysterical debate in Alabama mislabels religious-conscience bill as anti-gay

Hysterical debate in Alabama mislabels religious-conscience bill as anti-gay

After nearly four hours of debate, the Alabama House on Thursday passed a bill that gives judges, ministers and other officiants the right to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies. …

Rep. Jim Hill, R-Moody, said he sponsored the bill after receiving phone calls from judges and ministers concerned they would be required to perform marriages ceremonies they didn’t want to perform. …

Tears came to the eyes of Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, as she spoke against the bill on the House floor. Todd, the only openly gay legislator in the state, said the bill was drafted to discriminate against gay couples who want to marry.

“This is very hurtful to me as an openly gay person,” she said. …

Opponents of the marriage bill outside the legislature are concerned the bill’s reach will prevent access for gay couples at religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and other social organizations. [In other words, they’re afraid, precisely, that judges, ministers, and other officiants who don’t want to perform same-sex ceremonies will not be forced to.  Clearly, there is a need for this law. – Ed.] …

Hill repeatedly provided the same answer to the lawmaker questions. He said his bill is simply to clarify existing law that judges and ministers can’t be compelled to perform marriage ceremonies they don’t want to perform.

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