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SB 1140, California Bill Protecting Clergy From Performing Same-Sex Marriages, Passes Assembly

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A bill that would protect clergy members from performing same-sex marriages was presented to the California State Assembly by an unlikely author on Tuesday: gay rights activist Democratic Senator Mark Leno.

The bill, SB 1140, passed the Assembly 48-24, reportedly with many Republicans voting against it.

"As we continue our efforts to achieve full equality, we must remove every possible barrier to securing the freedom to marry, including the false claim made by anti-equality advocates that allowing loving same-sex couples to marry will force clergy or places of worship to compromise their religious beliefs," wrote Leno in the bill.

In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 8, a statewide ban on same-sex marriage, which has since been making its way through a series of appeals. In a press release introducing SB 1140, Leno stated "that it is only a matter of time before same-sex couples in California will again have the freedom to marry."

"As we anticipate the restoration of the freedom to marry in our state, SB 1140 reaffirms the principals of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with respect to the freedom of clergy to make faith-based decisions regarding which marriages they solemnize," he continued.

Though the bill would protect objecting clergy from performing sex-sex marriages, some religious groups have called the bill a "Trojan horse."

"We call it a Trojan horse," said Catholics for Common Good President William B. May in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May. "It appears to be a gift, but really it's undermining marriage. Rather, the true intent of the bill is to spread further confusion about what marriage is by differentiating between different types: civil and religious.”

The bill will now return to the Senate.

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Filed by Robin Wilkey