FL House Committee to Vote on a Bill that Could Lead
to Extreme Anti-LGBT Legislation
Senate Judiciary Committee stated support for expanding the bill yesterday
(Tallahassee) After passing through its first Senate committee yesterday, the dangerous and so-called Pastor Protection Act (HB 43/SB 110) is already scheduled for another vote in the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.
The so-called Pastor Protection Act is allegedly designed to protect pastors and clergy from being forced to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. While presenting his bill to the Senate Judiciary committee on January 26th, Senate sponsor Aaron Bean clearly stated that this legislation is a direct response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Pastors and clergy of all faiths are already fully protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, rendering this bill unnecessary, divisive, and a dangerous vehicle for even more extreme anti-LGBT legislation
In yesterday’s hearing, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee clearly stated their support for expanding the scope of this bill to include all individuals who may wish to assert their religious or moral objections to avoid providing services to certain customers. A bill that similarly allowed business owners to deny goods and services to gay and transgender customers in Indiana created a national uproar last year and cost the state over $60 million dollars in lost tourism revenue from conventions cancelled as a result.
Carlos Guillermo Smith, government affairs manager for Equality Florida, said in a statement, “The freedom of religion is important to all Americans, but the rule of law is also important, and these sorts of sweeping religious exemptions will allow folks to pick and choose which laws they will follow. Religious exemptions are ripe for abuse, and we can’t allow a can of worms like an expanded Pastor Protection Act to become law.”
House Bill 43 will be heard at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, January 28th in Room 404 in the House Office Building. This is the second hearing for the Pastor Protection Act in the House of Representatives, after passing through the House Civil Justice subcommittee in October 2015. The Judiciary Committee is the bill’s final stop before reaching the floor of the House for a full vote.