FL House Committee to Vote on Bill Could Lead to ​Extreme Anti-LGBT Legislation

Senate Judiciary Committee has stated support for expanding the bill

Posted by Melanie Nathan, February 03, 2016.

The dangerous and so-called Pastor Protection Act (HB 43/SB 110) is scheduled for its last vote before reaching the House Floor in the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning at 9:00a.m. The bill passed through its first Senate committee last Tuesday and was temporarily postponed in House Judiciary two days later.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. 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 last week’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
Carlos Guillermo Smith

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, February 4th 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.

UPDATE 2/4/2016: The divisive & unnecessary “Pastor Protection” Act has passed through its final FL House Cmte. Next stop is House Floor. Stay tuned.

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