The hotly debated Freedom of Religion Marriage Protection Act passed through Alabama’s House of Representatives on Thursday. Next, it will move to the state’s senate.
The Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act, or HB56, was debated for four hours before the House passed it.
Many of the bill’s proponents claim that it was written to protect the rights of judges and ministers to refuse to perform marriages that would violate their faith.
Those who oppose the bill point out the fact that it targets homosexual marriages and allows for more rampant homophobia. It also changes virtually nothing about the current state of affairs in Alabama.
Rep. Patricia Todd, Alabama’s only openly gay representative, had a few choice words to say on the matter.
“Everybody agreed this bill does nothing. I hope the constituents of the people who voted for this bill realize they’ve been duped, that they didn’t do anything, this was pandering to a minority group view,” said Todd, according to WSFA. “We are going to win this in the end, the Supreme Court is going to give us marriage equality. And I’m sorry that Alabama again is an embarrassment, will be the brunt of more national jokes.”
For Todd, this is more than just a simple piece of legislature. It hits too close to home.
“This is personal for me,” Todd told reporters. “This is the first time in this chamber that I’ve had to stand up here and defend my community and myself.
“What you’re saying to me is I’m not worthy of marriage,” Todd added.
The Speaker of the House for Alabama Mike Hubbard was quick to defend the bill though, claiming that it only addresses the person who is performing the marriage and not the couple hoping to get married.
“I think [HB56] does accomplish things. You know, there’s been a lot of confusion and probably more confusion to come and this simply clarifies the fact that if you are a judge or a religious official that you can not be compelled to perform a ceremony that is against your personal beliefs,” said Hubbard. “Just the argument that was made that you can’t tell someone what they can or can’t do, the same thing applies in this case. So it’s not discriminatory, it’s actually just clarifying the fact that a person can make their own personal decision based on.”
This all comes at the heels of a federal judge striking down the Alabama’s ban on same sex marriage in early February. However, on March 3 the state’s Supreme Court ordered that judges stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses.