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SD Lawmakers Say Bill On Clergy Rights Not Needed

January 30, 2014, 10:11 AM
Updated: January 30, 2014, 11:44 AM

SD Lawmakers Say Bill On Clergy Rights Not Needed

A South Dakota legislative committee has rejected a measure that would have allowed clergy and religious organizations to refuse to take part in gay marriage services.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 to kill the bill after opponents said the state and federal constitutions already let pastors and priests refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies.

Sponsors say they proposed the measure because courts might legalize gay marriage in South Dakota and force churches to perform same-sex weddings.

The measure's main sponsor, Sen. Ernie Otten of Tea, says he plans to withdraw a companion bill that would have given protection to businesses that refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings.

A South Dakota legislative committee rejected a bill that would have allowed religious organizations to refuse to take part in gay marriage services. 

In the meantime, a companion bill that would have given that same protection to businesses is being withdrawn. But the debate is far from over.

A new measure has surfaced that takes the same idea a step further. Senate Bill 128 would allow people and businesses to share their views on sexual orientation without getting in trouble. 

The measure would also make it illegal to sue a business for refusing to work with a same sex couple. It also says businesses should not be compelled to hire someone based on their sexual orientation.

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