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South Dakota

S.D. lawmakers say bill to protect clergy from gay weddings is unnecessary

Thursday, January 30, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. — A measure that sought to protect clergy members who refuse to take part in same-sex marriages was rejected Thursday by a South Dakota legislative committee after opponents said the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom already gives those church leaders the protections.

Ernie Otten

Ernie Otten

The Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 to kill a bill that would have prevented clergy from being forced to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs or consciences. It also sought to prevent clergy and other church officials from being sued or charged with crimes if they refused to take part in such weddings.

The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Ernie Otten, R-Tea, said the state’s constitution and laws ban same-sex marriage, but courts may overturn that ban and force South Dakota churches to perform same-sex marriages.

The proposal would have required tolerance of clergy members who do not believe in same-sex marriage, Otten said.

“This bill does not force or impose an agenda on anyone,” Otten said. “What the bill does, however, is protect South Dakota from anyone trying to impose his or her view on people by using legal or financial threats.”

Karl Kroger, a United Methodist minister from Piedmont, said the proposal was unneeded because the federal and state constitutions already protect clergy members’ rights to refuse to take part in same-sex weddings or other events that violate their religious beliefs.

“I’m here primarily to give one of the messages that was predominantly given to people by the angels, and that is: ‘Do not be afraid,’ ” Kroger said.

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But another sponsor of the bill, Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Sioux Falls, said the U.S. Supreme Court could legalize same-sex marriage nationally, which might require churches to perform same-sex marriages.

But Sen. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton, said the state and federal constitutions guarantee religious freedom, and that means clergy cannot be forced to perform any marriage.

Hunhoff, who voted against the bill, said she saw the measure as a “political statement” that could have unintended consequences. For example, passage of the bill could prompt medical workers to seek a law allowing them to refuse to care for certain people, she said.

Otten has also proposed a companion bill that would give protection to businesses that refuse to provide services for same-sex ceremonies.

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26 more reader comments:

  1. protect clergy LOLOL sorry

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:43pm
  2. No it is necessary because of people like you!

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:43pm
  3. Are these people really *that* stupid?

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:43pm
  4. cuz they need protection from us….they molest a bunch of kids but we’re the bad guys…ok

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:43pm
  5. Why is it oppressors cry oppression?

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:48pm
  6. Why do they so dearly want to be the victims? When we all know White Christians in the USA just can’t catch a break. Through out our history the white Christian has been forgotten in our land. LOL

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:52pm
  7. Citizens of SD, your tax dollars at work. Amazing that it only lost by one vote when the entire bill is pointless redundancy

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:53pm
  8. Fine but then their church has to pay taxes, and they have to pay taxes personally too!!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 9:58pm
  9. I’m glad that someone gets it. Kroger is 100% correct, currently churches are not required to perform marriages if they feel that it goes against their faith. It’s why you will very rarely see a Jewish wedding in a Cathedral or Mosque. Interfaith marriages are legal but not required to be performed by any church because that would go against the teachings of the faith.

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:09pm
  10. When did any LGBT group demand that churches perform ceremonies for us, going against their religious beliefs? Never, that I can remember.

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:36pm
  11. It is unnecessary… Seperation of church and state already allows clergymen to decide which people they can wed in their place of worship. No government law can force places of worship to do anything. And no one is forcing any clergymen to wed same sex couples!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:52pm
  12. This fear from the haters is getting old their religious freedom already protects them and no one has ever forced them to marry them why do they not understand this simple concept?!?!?

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 11:05pm
  13. Why should Churches be above the Law ?? Why ??

    Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 11:38pm
  14. What law are you talking about.

    Replied on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 12:05am
  15. Any Law that exempts the Churches or other Religious Bodies or, indeed, anybody . For a Law to be Just it must apply to ALL. If any type of Discrimination is made Unlawful, everybody should have to obey those Laws, otherwise they are meaningless .

    Replied on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 12:09am
  16. Sorry but nope. I will not force a religious person to marry anyone they do not feel ok marrying. I am an atheist and still would fight that ruling tooth and nail. however in this case as has been said repeatedly the law was redundant and not needed.

    Replied on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 12:07am
  17. Thank you!

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 12:13am
  18. True, but it would be cheaper to just pass it and shut them up.

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 1:50am
  19. protect them from what…someone trying to glitter up their black dresses. frig sakes we need protection from them

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 2:48am
  20. Protect Bigots? Hell, No!
    ——–
    Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice. ··· Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it
    as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil
    without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
    ··· Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 4:41am
  21. Karl Kroger, a United Methodist minister from Piedmont, said the proposal was unneeded because the federal and state constitutions already protect clergy members’ rights to refuse to take part in same-sex weddings or other events that violate their religious beliefs.

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 7:03am
  22. Sick of protecting churches. It is time to pay taxes

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 9:50am
  23. Fucking D Bag

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 11:30am
  24. “The Mormon Church Spontaneously Recognize Homosexual Weddings as the Proof of God’s Existence!! Millions of Gays to be Married in the State of California!!!” – http://buddhalightbringer.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/hallelujah-jesus-father-was-a-homosexual

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 12:30pm
  25. Tax churches!

    Posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 at 9:41pm
  26. Oh religious society Jesus accepts a traitor, a prostitute, and medically disabled people, and those of other religions while being a Jew himself who in the history of humanity had been considered evil, but the clergy rationalizes oppression

    Posted on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 3:24am