Pastor Protection Act headed to FL Senate floor for vote

By : Jamie Hyman
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State senators will vote on the anti-gay and unnecessary Pastor Protection Act March 3, after the legislature approved amendments March 1 that narrow the scope of the bill.

SB 110 purports to prevent religious leaders from being forced to perform same-sex weddings, even though under current laws protecting religious beliefs, clergy can already opt out of marrying any couple they choose, gay or straight.

The March 1 amendments, filed by Representatives Julio Gonzalez (R-Venice), Mike Miller (R- Orlando), and Senator Aaron Bean (R- Jacksonville), define which religious organizations the bill covers and remove vague language that may have conflicted with Florida’s Civil Rights Act.

“The most important agreement in these negotiations has been the firm commitment of the bill sponsors and legislative leadership that this bill will not be expanded to legalize discrimination in the ways we’ve seen unfold in other states,” says Carlos Guillermo Smith, Equality Florida’s Government Affairs Manager, in a media release. “While we still believe this bill is an unnecessary duplication of existing law, we are pleased Florida will not go down the path of Georgia, where an expanded ‘pastor protection’ bill would allow LGBT people and others to be refused goods and services.”

The Pastor Protection Act goes to the full Senate for a vote March 3, after the close of regular session.

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