Ohio sponsor seeks vote on so-called Pastor Protection Act

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Backers of a bill that would let Ohio’s churches and pastors refuse to perform same-sex marriages are calling for action on the legislation.

Sponsoring Rep. Nino Vitale (vih-TAHL’-ee) said Wednesday the bill has had three House committee hearings and it’s time to vote. The Urbana Republican introduced the measure after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision allowing same-sex marriage last year.

Under the so-called Pastor Protection Act, no clergy could be required to solemnize a marriage or have their church property used to host a ceremony that’s against their religious beliefs.

Opponents say the state and U.S. constitutions already protect religious freedom and the bill’s unnecessary.

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger told reporters Wednesday the bill could open up pastors to vulnerabilities, and he believes the U.S. Constitution provides them protections.

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