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Georgia House panel backs 'Pastor Protection' bill

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ATLANTAA House panel has approved a bill stating that religious officials don't have to perform same-sex marriages, a protection some believe is already guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The bill now goes to the full Judiciary committee for consideration. The measure known as the "Pastor Protection Act" is among at least 8 bills seeking religious exemptions for same-sex marriage objectors.

But it's the only bill backed by Speaker David Ralston, the House's top Republican.

The measure approved by a subcommittee Thursday also would allow religious organizations to prevent its property from being used for purposes "objectionable" to their beliefs.

Gay-rights supporters question that portion of the bill, arguing it could allow churches to limit access to housing, food pantries or other services but still accept taxpayer money through faith-based nonprofits.