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Thu Mar 5, 2015, 02:21 PM

Alabama Republicans push bill to allow denial of marriages on basis of beliefs [View all]

Source: The Guardian

Alabama Republicans push bill to allow denial of marriages on basis of beliefs

Jessica Glenza
Thursday 5 March 2015 17.31 GMT

A Republican-led bill in Alabama’s state legislature could radically alter the institution of marriage for Alabamians.

The bill was written in reaction to a federal judge striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, and sponsors say it could clear up confusion and protect religious rights. But activists say the bill’s implications would reach far beyond the LGBT community, and claim it is little more than an attempt to remove rights under the guise of religious freedom.

The bill allows ministers and judges to opt out of performing or – critically – recognizing any marriage that defies their convictions. The bill, the Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act, also allows religiously affiliated social organizations to deny service on the basis of religion, activists said.

Legal experts say religiously affiliated hospitals could refuse visits from a sick patient’s spouse, on the basis that their marriage defies their religious convictions.

Judges could refuse to grant a divorce if divorce was against their religious beliefs; a Catholic judge could refuse to marry a Hindu, Muslim or Jewish couple, Susan Watson, said executive director with Alabama’s American Civil Liberties Union.

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Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/05/alabama-republicans-bill-deny-marriages-services-religious-beliefs

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