HB36, the so-called “Pastor Protection Act”
The 132nd General Assembly has concluded and this bill is no longer active.
The problem with the bill is not that clergy can choose not to marry someone if it goes against their faith. They currently have, and should have, that right––nobody would want to force a Catholic Priest to marry a Jewish couple, or visa versa. Likewise, any faith leader has a First Amendment right to decline to marry anybody.
But this bill goes further, and allows for undefined ‘religious societies’ to discriminate against couples seeking to marry with regard to public accommodations. This means that couples of all sorts––including interfaith couples and interracial couples, who are currently protected under state law––could experience discrimination in accessing a Knights of Columbus hall for a wedding reception, for example.
Property and services rented to the public at large must be available to all, regardless of race, sex, religion and other protected characteristics.