ALABAMA: House Approves Bill To Allow Officials To Refuse To Conduct Marriages
The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation that would prevent those empowered to officiate weddings from being forced to conduct ceremonies to which they have religious objections, or to be sued over their refusal. Although the bill does not directly address same-sex marriage, opponents said the legislation targeted gay and lesbian couples and could allow religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals, to deny benefits and services to same-sex couples. "We're here because we want to condemn a population we don't understand and we don't like," said Rep. Patricia Todd, a Democrat from Birmingham, Ala., the only openly gay member of the Alabama Legislature. "It doesn't change anything, but it will help (lawmakers) in districts show they will stand up against same sex-sex marriage." Rep. Jim Hill, a Republican from Springville, Ala., a former judge and the sponsor of the bill, insisted that the bill, introduced amid a statewide controversy over the legality of same-sex marriage, was not about same-sex marriage.Rep. Patricia Todd vowed to continue to fight: "I know you're going to go back home and say, 'Look what we did to those gay people.' Well, you didn't do anything." Todd, you may recall, has threatened to out local anti-gay politicians who have committed adultery.