Published On: Mon, Feb 3rd, 2014

South Dakota bill protecting Pastors from performing same-sex wedding fails in committee

Lawmakers in South Dakota have defeated a bill that sought to protect pastors from performing same-sex “weddings,” as the bill failed approval by a Senate committee by a single vote.

Senate Bill 66 was deemed to be unnecessary by opponents of the legislation, as they asserted that the state constitution already protects residents from being forced to violate their conscience.

“No member of the clergy nor lay official of any church or religion may be required to solemnize any marriage, provide services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage, or treat any marriage as valid for any purpose if such action would cause any such entity or individual to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs,” it read.

The legislation also protected pastors from lawsuits or any other type of retribution for refusing to officiate homosexual ceremonies against their conscience.

Senator Ernie Otten (R-Tea) had introduced the legislation out of fear of what could occur if the courts overturn the state’s same-sex “marriage” ban.

“This bill does not force or impose an agenda on anyone,” he told the Associated Press. “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.”

Sen. Steve Hickey (R-Souix Falls), a pastor, agreed that the bill was vital to protect the church from the state.

“We’re asking for a little more firewall to keep whatever the state approves out there from affecting what we’re doing because of deeply held religious convictions,”  he told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. “[T]he state wants to approve whatever it wants to approve; that’s fine. But we have religious right of conscience. And so … this bill says the state stops at our church.”

Karl Kroger, a United Methodist minister in Piedmont said that churches had nothing to fear surrounding the matter.

“I am here to give you a message that was predominately given to people by the angels, and that is do not be afraid. You all don’t have to be afraid of this,” he said. “It’s going to be okay. We’re not being persecuted. We have freedom of religion. As a pastor, I will not be forced to violate my conscience and perform a same sex wedding.”

The committee ultimately struck down the legislation 4-3, with the majority agreeing that the proposal was unnecessary.


Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

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