Bill Protecting OK Clergy Who Refuse Same-Sex Marriage Recognition Moves Through The House

Friday, February 13th 2015, 5:40 pm
By: News 9

A bill to protect clergy who refuse to recognize same-sex marriage made it through the House.

While it is legal in Oklahoma some lawmakers said ministers still need immunity.

This is the first legislative session since legalization of same-sex marriage and L.G.B.T supporters said they feel there are several hate bills this session, but this bill is not one.

Same-sex marriage became legal on Oct. 6 of last year. 

10/6/2014 Related Story: Stay Lifted: Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal In Oklahoma

"That day was such a celebration," said Rev Lori Walke with Mayflower Congregational Church.

Reverend Lori Walke has since performed more than 50 same-sex weddings.

But not all clergy across the state celebrated as much as Reverend Walke.

"Several pastors in my district have approached me about their concerns and civil claims with the public actions and nondiscrimination lawsuits," said Representative David Brumbaugh.

So Representative David Brumbaugh authored House Bill 1007, which would provide protection for clergy who don't recognize a marriage that violates their "conscience or religious beliefs."

"No one is forcing anyone to officiate same-sex marriages as far as I know. And those who are officiating same-sex weddings are facing not just criticism but threats," said Rev. Walke.

"It's a solution without a problem," said Troy Stevenson with Freedom Oklahoma.

Freedom Oklahoma's Troy Stevenson reassured while the L.G.B.T community feels this bill is unnecessary, it's not discriminatory.

“We would be the first ones standing up supporting any clergy member that was forced to perform any denomination. Any religion that didn't agree with … that is a fundamental right in this country," said Stevenson.

A right to freedom of religion is something Rev. Walke said she also supports. 

1/23/2015 Related Story: Rep. Sally Kern Files Three Bills Against Same-Sex Marriage

"I want to make sure that's certainly expressed," said Rev. Walke.

Representative Brumbaugh also said that pastors in his district feel the first amendment is not enough protection the way the federal courts are going.

Freedom Oklahoma said there are more than 160 clergy members across the state who are willing to perform same-sex marriages.