Friday, April 24, 2015

Oklahoma Legislature Passes 2 Bills Protecting Clergy, Judges and Churches That Object To Same-Sex Marriage

The Oklahoma legislature this week gave final passage to HB 1007 (full text) protecting clergy and religious organizations that object to same-sex marriage.  The bill provides that clergy shall not be required to solemnize marriages that violate their conscience or religious beliefs.  Religious organizations shall not be required to provide religious-based services designed for engaged or married couples or couples where the services are directly related to solemnizing, celebrating, strengthening or promoting a marriage, such as religious counseling programs, courses, retreats and workshops, if doing so would violate the conscience or religious beliefs of an official of the organization.  Clergy and officials of religious organizations are immunized from civil liability for refusing to solemnize or furnish services for such marriages.

The legislature also gave final passage to SB 788 (full text) that (unless otherwise prohibited by law) protects judges who are authorized to perform marriages, as well as clergy, from being required to "perform or solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." It also provides that no church or church-controlled organization shall be required to participate in a ceremony performing or solemnizing a marriage in violation of the church's or organization's religious beliefs.