Ohio lawmakers withdraw proposal similar to controversial Arizona bill

(FOX19) - Ohio lawmakers have withdrawn a proposal that mirrored a controversial "religious freedom" bill in Arizona.

Here's what happened in Arizona.

Social conservatives pushed a bill that would have protected business owners who assert their religious beliefs in refusing service to gays,

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, saying it was unneeded and could cause unintended damage.

The measure had stirred up a national debate, including sharp criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.

In our commitment to balanced news, here are both sides of the issue.

Republican State Representative Tim Derickson and Democratic State Representative Bill Patmon introduced House Bill 376 in December to protect the ability of Ohioans to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

But opponents of the measure say because of the broad language, the law would promote and legalize discrimination. For example, business owners who oppose homosexuality could refuse service to homosexuals on the basis of religion.

After protests led to the veto in Arizona, Ohio representatives Tim Derickson and Bill Patmon withdrew their proposed House Bill 376 also known as the Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In a joint release, the sponsors of House Bill 376 say quote "Discrimination of any kind was never the intent of this legislation. While our commitment to religious freedom remains constant, it is in the best interest of all Ohioans that no further consideration be given to House Bill 376."

While the bill was intended to protect religious rights, city councilman Chris Seelbach says the broad writing left the door open for discrimination.

"This legislation is almost like a double whammy. It's like sexual orientation and gender identity are not included in our non discrimination policies. Now we want to just pass this legislation to make sure people know it's okay to discriminate," says Seelbach.

That is why Seelbach says he supports separate legislation that protects LGBT rights so bills like these can not be used to discriminate.

"The least we can do is make it the law that you can't openly discriminate against someone just because of who they love," says Seelbach.

Several other states are still considering similar legislation. Some of those states include Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved.