Friday, February 28, 2014

Ohio's Religious Freedom Restoration Act Withdrawn From Consideration - H.B. 376

From the Ohio Christian Alliance:

In a matter of hours after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Arizona's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, S.B. 1062, sponsors of Ohio's Religious Freedom Restoration Act H.B. 376, withdrew it from consideration. Co-sponsors of the legislation were not notified of the motion to withdraw until they read it in the papers this morning. H.B. 376 had enjoyed bipartisan support and had 43 co-sponsors. The bill's sponsors, Rep. Timothy Derickson (R-53) and Rep. Bill Patmon (D-10), withdrew the bill from consideration with the following statement,
"The intent of HB 376 was to ensure Ohioans' religious freedom by protecting their ability to freely worship and preventing any laws from burdening the free exercise of religion."
"However, with the controversy that is occurring in Arizona, we feel that it is in the best interest of Ohioans that there be no further consideration of this legislation," the statement says. "Protecting people's personal liberties – religious or otherwise – is of the upmost importance to members of the Ohio House, and we want to ensure that no law that we pass in this chamber is misconstrued to be discriminatory in any way."
The statement says the bill "stemmed from a well-meaning place," but that they don't want to allow for "confusion" around the issue.
"Discrimination of any kind was never the intent of this legislation. While our commitment to religious freedom remains constant, it is in the best interest of all Ohioans that no further consideration be given to HB 376."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Butler (R-Dayton) said in a statement, "I respect the sponsors' wishes on this matter, and as such, no future consideration will be given to HB 376."
Members of the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to "indefinitely postpone" consideration of the bill later Wednesday.
After the committee meeting, Butler told Hannah News that indefinitely postponing the bill "effectively kills it."
OCA President Chris Long made the following statement, "The Ohio Christian Alliance, along with Citizens for Community Values, is dismayed by the actions of the legislators to so quickly scuttle this legislation that would assure people of faith in Ohio that they would not face discrimination by practicing their religious faith and convictions."
"As Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, in an interview with Megyn Kelly, stated 'Where do Christians now go to receive protection under the law?"' Mr. Perkins had referenced in his interview Christian bakers and photographers who were targeted with lawsuits as a result of exercising their religious right of conscience. State entities have actually injoined lawsuits against individuals who declined to participate in homosexual weddings by either baking and serving the cake or by being the wedding photography coordinator."
Long continued, " The action by Governor Jan Brewer and the action by some Ohio legislators does not end the issue. Our First Amendment rights of freedom of religion are far too important and fundamental to all rights of individuals under the Constitution. To so lightly toss them aside with little regard is a crime against the ideals of freedom itself. This issue is sounding the alarm for all freedom-loving Americans. If religious people can be compelled against their will to perform acts and services against their conscience, where does the tyranny end?"

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