- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Opponents of a bill that would allow Alabama probate judges and ministers to refuse to marry gay couples on religious grounds say the legislation could open the door to broader discrimination.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday heard passionate testimony about the bill that the sponsor says came about after a brief period of legalized gay marriage in Alabama.

Proponents say the bill would protect religious beliefs but opponents say it opens the door to broader discrimination of same-sex couples and other groups.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jim Hill says he brought the bill after a federal judge ruled that Alabama’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Hill says the legislation wouldn’t prevent gay couples from marrying.

Around 500 same-sex marriages were performed in Alabama earlier this year during a three-week period.

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