Ohio Bill on Religion, Gay Rights is Withdrawn
State lawmakers in Ohio withdrew legislation Wednesday that mirrors an Arizona bill that’s come under fire for protecting those who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays.
Republican state Rep. Tim Derickson and Democratic state Rep. Bill Patmon issued a joint statement citing concern over the bill’s unintended consequences.
"The intent of (our bill) was to ensure Ohioans’ religious freedom by protecting their ability to freely worship and preventing any laws from burdening the free exercise of religion," their statement said. "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."
Debate on the bill has been indefinitely postponed, House Speaker William Batchelder’s office said.
Similar legislation was passed in Arizona. At issue is a provision protecting any individual, association or corporation from discrimination lawsuits if their actions are based on sincerely held religious beliefs. Detractors say the provision amounts to state-sanctioned discrimination, while supporters say it’s a relatively minor change to existing law.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is facing pressure from gay-rights supporters, business groups and some fellow Republicans to veto the bill.
The Ohio legislators said the bill they introduced in December wasn’t intended to promote discrimination.