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West Virginia House OKs bill to protect beliefs of wedding officiants


The Herald-Dispatch

Del. John Scott, R-Mercer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed a bill that protects clergy from officiating weddings that are against their sincerely held beliefs.

Del. John Shott, R-Mercer, said the bill clarifies current law and protects clergy from any future litigation.

“This will provide some clarity in a murky area of state law and marriage solemnization,” Shott said.

A Catholic priest refusing to officiate a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic was one example of when this bill might apply.

Opponents of the bill, including Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, and Del. Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, said the effort was a waste of time because the right is already protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the West Virginia Constitution. There also have been no cases in West Virginia law relating to the issue.

“This is just pandering to groups who are opposed to same-sex marriage, which is the law of the land,” Fleischauer said after reading the West Virginia Constitution.

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