Oklahoma House OKs bill protecting ministers who refuse same-sex marriages

Oklahoma state capitol in Oklahoma City. Staff Reports

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House has approved legislation that grants immunity from civil liability to ministers who refuse to officiate a same-sex marriage.

Oklahoma state capitol in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma state capitol in Oklahoma City.

House members voted 88-7 Thursday for the bill by Republican Rep. David Brumbaugh. The measure now goes to the state Senate.

The bill grants licensed ministers in the state immunity from any civil claim based on their refusal to recognize a marriage that violates the minister’s “conscience or religious beliefs.”

The measure is one of several that have been targeted by gay rights groups as discriminatory against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Brumbaugh says pastors in his district requested the bill after a federal court last year struck down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage in the state.

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Critics said the bill was a waste of lawmakers time because religious institutions are already protected under federal law from having to solemnize same-sex unions, and that no religion has ever been forced to marry same-sex couples, or recognize same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Oklahoma on October 6, 2014.

The measure is House Bill 1007.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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