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Religious freedom debate coming to Ohio

February 27, 2014
The Marietta Times

If State Rep. Andy Thompson gets his way, we will see new signs in Marietta's store windows starting this spring. "Gays Not Welcome" signs will not only be legal, but expectant. After last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, new "religion protection" bills started popping up in conservative states across the country. Arizona just passed its law. Tennessee, Mississippi, Utah, Kansas, Alabama, and Ohio are following suit. Marietta's Andy Thompson is co-sponsoring Ohio's version - HB-376 - "Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act." This act makes it legal to refuse services to anyone that you perceive to violate your religious beliefs. The conservative groups and media promoting the legislation are very clear that the new law is directed at gay and lesbian Ohioans. Conservatives like Mr. Thompson want to legally restore the religious freedom of private business owners and public employees to refuse services to gay people. HB-376 is modeled on the recently passed Arizona law which also protects/restores the religious rights of law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency personnel.



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