OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today signed HB 1007, a bill aimed at protecting religious leaders from being being forced to perform marriages that contradict their religious beliefs.
The bill states, “No regularly licensed, ordained or authorized official of any religious organization shall be required to solemnize or recognize any marriage that violates the official's conscience or religious beliefs.”
Governor Fallin said the bill was an important measure protecting the constitutional and religious rights of Oklahomans.
“This bill makes it clear that the government can never compel our religious leaders or houses of worship to act in violation of their faith where marriage is concerned,” said Fallin. “I am proud to join our Legislature in taking a strong stand in defense of religious liberty and the freedoms awarded to all American citizens by the U.S. Constitution.”
Pastor Ron Isam has been marrying couples for 38 years.
"For me marriage is the commitment of one man and one woman for a lifetime," Pastor Isam said.
He said to marry anyone outside that definition would go against his belief.
"Not because I don't think that they should have some rights in this world, but I don't feel like I can put God's blessing on it," Pastor Isam said.
It is not just same-sex couples he will not marry.
"If I'm doing premarital counseling with a couple that I feel are just not, they're not ready, then I have to have the right to say 'I don't think you are ready,'" Pastor Isam said.
He said he is glad to see Oklahoma government backing his rights.
"It feels good to see our government making some statements in those areas," Pastor Isam said.
Troy Stevenson believes the law was written only to make a statement.
"There was a lot of legislation proposed this session that was backlash against the freedom to marry coming to Oklahoma. This was a very minor piece of that, but it's also something we can very much live with because it doesn't do any harm to our community," Stevenson said.
Stevenson supports the law, but says lawmakers wasted time on it.
"We think it's unnecessary because it's already there and they should probably be spending their time talking about other things," Stevenson said.
Representative Bobby Cleveland is one of the co-authors of the bill. In a statement to News Channel 4 he said, “The bill will protect the constitutional and religious rights of all Oklahomans. It may be a redundant law, however, this bill makes it crystal clear and protects our religious freedom.”