Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ohioans have the right to marry who they love. But now our politicians are trying to enshrine anti-LGBTQ discrimination into law with a “Pastor Protection Act” that was just introduced on February 7 and is already being rushed through committee hearings the next day.
House Bill 36 purports itself to be the Pastor Protection Act because it would allow ministers to refuse to perform any marriage that doesn’t conform to their sincerely held religious beliefs. Let’s be clear: the First Amendment already protects pastors’ freedom of religion, including their right not to perform marriages that may violate their beliefs. Just as Catholic priests were never required to marry non-Catholic couples, they would not be required to marry same-sex couples. At the same time, government officials and businesses should treat all couples equally.
Unfortunately, the bill goes even further, allowing discrimination against same-sex couples by “religious societies” which are undefined and could have far-reaching consequences.
HB 36, and other bills like it, are designed to undo the progress we’ve made and relegate same-sex couples back to second-class status. It is appalling that in a state still lacking basic protections for LGBTQ people, politicians are choosing to rehash old, unnecessary fights that hurt their constituents.
Passing this bill would embolden certain legislators to pass increasingly expansive restrictions on the rights of LGBTQ people. We need you to contact your legislator and House leadership and urge them not to advance HB 36.