Ohio Bill Regarding Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Religious Protections (HB 537)
This law was last updated on Nov 19, 2018
HB 537 would prohibit employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, while also providing protections for religious officials refusing to solemnize marriages.
The bill would provide limited protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation. While the bill would prohibit employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, it would not extend those same protections for discrimination based on gender identity. The bill also fails to extend protections in the area of public accommodations.
HB 537 would grant exemptions to this provision for organized religious bodies and educational institutions that are at least partly controlled by a particular religion. In addition, the bill would only apply to employers with more than fifteen employees.
HB 537 would authorize municipal judges, county court judges, and probate judges, as well as other elected officials, to decline to solemnize marriages.
The bill would also prohibit the state from requiring an ordained or licensed minister to:
- Solemnize a marriage that is contrary to their religious beliefs;
- Credit for religious purposes a marriage between individuals that is contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs;
- Provide any goods, services, grounds, or facilities of the minister or religious society for a marriage solemnization or celebration that is contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs; or
- Promote marriage or relationships through religious programs, counseling, courses, or retreats in a way that is contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
The First Amendment already covers the right of religious organizations to refuse to perform marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. This bill takes it a step further by denying the use of facilities or services for marriage ceremonies.