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Ohio


Sponsor Patmon pulls his Ohio "religious freedom" bill
Critics said it would have legalized discrimination against gay people
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES


Reporter
Jo Ingles
 
Patmon says he may be back with a new version of his religious freedom bill.
Courtesy of State of Ohio
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In The Region:

A so-called “religious freedom” bill in the Ohio Legislature is being pulled. The bill -- similar to one recently passed in Arizona -- has been widely criticized as allowing discrimination against LGBT people. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports on why the Ohio Legislation is dead for now.

LISTEN: Patmon says the religous freedom bill has been misinterpreted

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One sponsor of the religious freedom bill considered in the Ohio legislature, Democratic Rep. Bill Patmon, says the plan is dead.

“The bill is being pulled off the legislative agenda by my request.  There is too much misunderstanding and misinterpretation in this particular case. And when you find that, then you have to maybe go back to the drawing board because we are not Arizona nor were we ever intended to be or to have a bill that is reflective of what they are doing.”

Patmon says he was pushing the bill because he wanted to make sure there were protections for people who wear a crosses, a yarmulke or some other religious symbol in their workplaces. But critics of this bill said it could open the door to widespread discrimination of gay Ohioans. Patmon says the language in this bill was not clear enough.

“There are different interpretations of it. That’s a concern for me. I don’t want different interpretations whether it is the ACLU or someone else. There should be only one. And that is to make sure people have religious freedom.”

Unintentional consequences become clear
Patmon’s co-sponsor on this legislation, Republican Tim Derickson, is also willing to pull the bill.  Spencer Gross is Derickson’s legislative aide. 

“Through the legislative process it kind of became clear that there were some unintentional consequences that could result from the bill’s implementation. We wanted this to be something that would protect Ohioans of all faiths and their religious liberties and it wasn’t our intent to make this a discrimination bill.”

The sponsors say they would like to pursue a religious freedom bill in the future, but for now, the legislation is dead.

That’s welcome news as far as Ian James is concerned.  James, a leader with the gay rights group FreedomOhio, says the language in the Ohio bill was very close to the language in the Arizona legislation. 

James says he thinks sponsors of this bill didn’t realize it could have unintended consequences. And he doesn’t want to see a new version, and says Ohio should not either.

“Companies will come out to strong opposition to this, I’m sure, because they see this is not the way for Ohio to go forward. It’s a bad bill. It’s dangerous.”

For his part, Rep. Patmon, a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, says he will not support any legislation that would discriminate.

“Given who I am, there’s no way I could be in favor of discrimination.”

 

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