Thursday, March 12, 2015

#NewsBham: Alabama House of Representatives Passes #HB56, So Called Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act

Alabama House of Representatives voted 69 yay to 25 nay with 1 abstention today passing HB56, a bill that would allow officials, based on their own beliefs, without threat of legal action, to discriminate against anyone for whom they wished not to solemnize a marriage

The bill will now move to the Alabama Senate.

HB56 

164963-1 
By Representative Hill (J) 
RFD: Judiciary

 First Read: 03-MAR-15

PFD: 02/27/2015


164963-1:n:02/27/2015:FC*/mfc LRS2015-802

SYNOPSIS:        

This bill would enact the Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act by amending Section 30-1-7, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to persons authorized to solemnize marriages.

This bill would specify that those authorized or permitted to solemnize marriages pursuant to Alabama law are not required to solemnize the marriage of any person.

This bill would also specify the rights of those associated with religious organizations, institutions, and societies as related to marriage recognition and solemnization.

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT

To enact the Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act; to amend Section 30-1-7, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to persons authorized to solemnize marriages; to specify that those authorized to solemnize marriages pursuant to the laws of this state are not required to solemnize the marriage of any person; and to specify and further establish the rights of those associated with religious organizations, institutions, and societies as related to marriage recognition and solemnization.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. This act may be known and shall be cited as The Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act.

Section 2. Section 30-1-7, Code of Alabama 1975, is amended to read as follows: "§30-1-7. 13

"(a) Generally. Marriages may be solemnized by any licensed minister of the gospel in regular communion with the Christian church or society of which the minister is a member; by an active or retired judge of the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Civil Appeals, any circuit court, or any district court within this state; by a judge of any 19 federal court; or by an active or retired judge of probate.

"(b) Pastor of religious society; clerk of society to maintain register of marriages; register, etc., deemed presumptive evidence of fact. Marriage may also be solemnized by the pastor of any religious society according to the rules ordained or custom established by such society. The clerk or keeper of the minutes of each society shall keep a register and enter therein a particular account of all marriages solemnized by the society, which register, or a sworn copy thereof, is presumptive evidence of the fact.

"(c) Quakers, Mennonites, or other religious societies. The people called Mennonites, Quakers, or any other Christian society having similar rules or regulations, may solemnize marriage according to their forms by consent of the parties, published and declared before the congregation assembled for public worship. 

"(d) No one authorized or permitted to solemnize marriages pursuant to this section or any other provision of Alabama law is required to solemnize a marriage for any person or persons.

"(e) Protection of freedom of religion in marriage. Consistent with the guarantees of freedom of religion set forth by both the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901; and Amendment 622 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as

Section 3.01 of the Official  Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended (the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment):

"(1) No licensed or ordained minister or any priest, rabbi, or similar official of any church, synagogue, society, or religious organization is required to solemnize or recognize any marriage.

"(2) A licensed or ordained minister or any priest, rabbi, or similar official of any church, synagogue, society, or religious organization shall be immune from any civil claim or cause of action, or any criminal prosecution, based on a refusal to solemnize or recognize any marriage under this section or any other provision of Alabama law.

"(3) No state agency or local government may base a decision to penalize, withhold benefits from, or refuse to contract with any church, synagogue, society, or religious organization on the refusal of a person associated with such church, synagogue, society, or religious organization to solemnize or recognize a marriage under this section or any other provision of Alabama law.

"(4) No church, synagogue, society, or religious organization is required to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the recognition, solemnization, or celebration of a marriage.

"(5) A church, synagogue, society, or religious organization shall be immune from any civil claim or cause of action, or any criminal prosecution, based on its refusal to provide accommodations, facilities, advantages, privileges, services, or goods related to the recognition, solemnization, or celebration of a marriage.

"(6) For purposes of this section, a church, synagogue, society, or religious organization includes, but is not limited to, churches, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, and other entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion or a particular religion.

"(7) For purposes of this subsection, the recognition, solemnization, or celebration of a marriage includes services or provisions that are related to or designed to relate to solemnizing, recognizing, celebrating, strengthening, or promoting marriage, such as religious counseling programs, courses, retreats, and workshops.

"(8) Nothing in this section shall be construed to eliminate, reduce, alter, or otherwise modify any additional,  broader, or other constitutional freedoms and protections of  religion or religious liberties for any person or church,  synagogue, society, or religious organization as established under the United States Constitution or the constitution of this state." 

Section 3. The provisions in this act are severable  from the remainder of the act, and any that lack enforceability shall not affect the enforceability of other provisions.

Section 4. This act shall become effective upon its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.