Bill protecting clergy from performing same-sex marriages advanc - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Bill protecting clergy from performing same-sex marriages advances to La. House floor

Louisiana State Capitol (Source: WAFB) Louisiana State Capitol (Source: WAFB)

A bill that would allow clergy to refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies moved on to the House floor for discussion at the State Capitol.

The House Civil Law and Procedure Committee amended the Pastor Protection Act Tuesday to change wording. The committee then approved the bill by a vote of 7-3.

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, is the bill's author. He said it is not an attack on the LGBT community, but a protection for pastors. 

"This is a measure that's designed only to insure that a religious leader can't be forced by the government to participate in or conduct a wedding that violates his or her sincerely-held religious beliefs," said Johnson, who proposed last year’s controversial Marriage and Conscience Act. 

Under the proposed legislation, members of clergy could not face civil or criminal action from the state for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. That is something Johnson said has been a concern since last year. 

"This is a reactionary statement to the Supreme Court's decision to make marriage equality the law of the land," said Sarah Brady with Forum for Equality. "In Louisiana, there has been no situations where the Pastor Protection Act would have created an actual protection."

Gov. Edwards said the bill is unnecessary, but with Tuesday's amendment, he supports it. 

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