COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio House sponsor is withdrawing a “religious freedom” bill that contains wording identical to anti-LGBT legislation in Arizona.
Rep. Bill Patmon, a Cleveland Democrat who in December called his bill a “no-brainer” told Outlook yesterday that he was putting the bill on hold until it could be rewritten to erase concerns it might open the door to discrimination against LGBT people and others.
Ohio Public Radio reported this morning that Patmon is pulling the bill entirely.
FreedomOhio Executive Director Ian James said Patmon told him of his plans.
“I’m relieved to see Rep. Patmon working to stop this destructive and discriminatory piece of legislation,” James said. “Our state already has an unconstitutional marriage ban in place, depriving loving same-sex couple of the right to be legally married. The last thing we need is to further marginalize and attack LGBT Ohioans.
Patmon sponsored House Bill 376 with Rep. Tim Derickson, a Republican from Oxford. There were 43 co-sponsors: 40 Republicans and three Democrats.
Any of the others can reintroduce the bill, but Patmon said yesterday that it was never his intention to sanction discrimination. He said he introduced the bill solely to reinforce people’s right to keep a Bible at their desks or wear religious items such as a cross or yarmulke without fear of sanction from their employer or the government.