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SD lawmakers say bill on clergy rights not needed

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota legislative committee has rejected a measure that would have allowed clergy and religious organizations to refuse to take part in gay marriage services.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 to kill the bill after opponents said the state and federal constitutions already let pastors and priests refuse to perform gay marriage ceremonies.

Sponsors say they proposed the measure because courts might legalize gay marriage in South Dakota and force churches to perform same-sex weddings.

The measure’s main sponsor, Sen. Ernie Otten of Tea, says he plans to withdraw a companion bill that would have given protection to businesses that refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings.