"A measure that sought to protect clergy members who refuse to take part in gay marriages was rejected Thursday by a South Dakota legislative committee after opponents said the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom already gives those church leaders the protections.
The Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 to kill a bill that would have prevented clergy from being forced to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs or consciences. It also sought to prevent clergy and other church officials from being sued or charged with crimes if they refused to take part in such weddings.
The bill's main sponsor, Sen. Ernie Otten, R-Tea, said the state's constitution and laws ban gay marriage, but courts may overturn that ban and force South Dakota churches to perform same-sex marriages.
The proposal would have required tolerance of clergy members who do not believe in same-sex marriage, Otten said."