HB 286 – Ohio Pastors “Protection” Act (2015-2016)
Link to Bill:https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-286
HB 286 restates First Amendment protection for religious leaders to decline to perform weddings. It goes further by allowing religious societies to deny the use of religious buildings and property for the use of any wedding they feel does not adequately conform to their religious beliefs.
Primary Sponsors:Rep. Vitale (R)
Secondary Sponsors:Rep. Becker (R), Rep. Brenner (R), Rep. Brinkman (R), Rep. Butler (R), Rep. Conditt (R), Rep. Derickson (R), Rep. Ginter (R), Rep. Hayes (R), Rep. Henne (R), Rep. Hill (R), Rep. Hood (R), Rep. Kraus (R), Rep. McClain (R), Rep. Patmon (D), Rep. Perales (R), Rep. Retherford (R), Rep. Roegner (R), Rep. Romanchuk (R), Rep. Ruhl (R), Rep. Schaffer (R), Rep. Sprague (R), Rep. Terhar (R), Rep. Thompson (R), Rep. Young (R), Rep. Zeltwanger (R)
Committee:Community and Family Advancement (H)
LSC Legislation Status:https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-status?id=GA131-HB-286
Our take on this bill:
The ACLU of Ohio opposes this bill because religious leaders’ right to decline to perform weddings is already protected by the First Amendment. In this regard, HB 286 is a redundant piece of legislation.
The bill also extends this right to include properties owned by a church. In cases where churches rent out their commercial property to the public for events (such as weddings), the ACLU of Ohio strongly feels these types of facilities should be open to all members of public.
A further troubling part about HB 286 is that it extends these protections to “religious societies.” That term remains undefined in the legislation, so it could grant the right to legally discriminate very broadly. This is an outcome that the ACLU of Ohio very strongly wishes to avoid.
Ohio’s legislators should be working on providing protections to their LGBT constituents who can be fired from their jobs, kicked out of their homes, and denied public services instead of focusing on further discrimination.
Introduced in the House on 7/13/15
Referred to House Community & Family Advancement Committee on 9/16/15
Received Committee hearings on 12/8/15, 2/9/16, 4/12/16, 11/29/16
Passed out of the House Community & Family Advancement Committee on 11/29/16