A state representative will sponsor legislation aimed at making clear that ministers and others who object to same-sex marriages on religious grounds would not have to perform such services.
Rep. Addia Kathryn Wuchner, a Republican who represents part of Boone County, announced Thursday that she had pre-filed the bill to be considered in the 2016 legislative session.
Wuchner said she'd had numerous contacts from pastors concerned about the potential impact on them of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 26 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Wuchner said she believes the U.S. Constitution's protection for freedom of religion would bar members of the clergy from having to perform such a ceremony. However, Wuchner said, her bill would assure pastors that they would not have to compromise their religious convictions.
Wuchner's bill says nothing in state law shall be interpreted "to compel a person to solemnize a marriage to which the person holds a sincere religious objection or which is contrary to the person's faith tradition due to the marriage being between persons of the same sex as biologically identified and recorded at birth," according to a copy posted on the legislative website.
The bill would excuse people from civil or criminal liability for refusing to conduct a same-sex marriage.
Wuchner said that while "sincerely respecting the opinions and life choices of others, regardless of their positions," the intent of the bill is to "provide clarity and protect the religious freedom of individuals and institutions to proclaim the Gospel message and provide ministerial services without prejudice, and to practice their long-held religious convictions and faith traditions."
The bill would apply to anyone in Kentucky authorized to perform marriages, which includes not only members of the clergy but judges and county judge-executives and magistrates.
It would apply only to performing marriages, Wuchner said, and not to issuing marriage licenses, or to business practices such as deciding whether to cater a same-sex wedding. Some county clerks in Kentucky have balked at issuing marriage licenses under the Supreme Court decision, arguing it runs counter to their Christian beliefs.