Georgia Republican to introduce pastor protection act

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A bill set to be introduced in next year’s legislative session would protect religious leaders who object to performing same-sex marriage ceremonies.

House Speaker David Ralston said he would introduce a pastor's protection act that would protect faith leaders who do not subscribe spiritually to gay marriage from having to legally perform ceremonies. Ralston expressed his views Saturday to the House Republican Caucus.

While the language is bound to change between now and when the 2016 General Assembly session begins in six months, the current proposed texts reads as follow:

‘No minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usages of the denomination, when acting in his or her official religious capacity, shall be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of his or her right to free exercise of religion.’

Several state lawmakers have expressed interest in sponsoring the bill.

Ralston also expressed his disappointment that the U.S. Supreme Courts did not leave such a decision up to elected legislators, but conceded that it is the law of the land. In a release sent to FOX 5 News, he stated that this bill would help “make explicit our continued commitment to the free exercise of religion in Georgia.”

Georgia Equality, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocate group, said they would support the bill.

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