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“Pastor Protection Act” Passes Final Florida House Committee

Florida Capitol Building in Tallahassee

Florida Capitol Building in Tallahassee. Source: WikiMedia Commons

Dozens of religious leaders converged on Tallahassee Thursday as the House Judiciary Committee took up a bill called the “Pastor Protection Act.”

The measure by Representative Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican, would prevent clergy members from being forced to perform marriage ceremonies contrary to their beliefs.

The pastors who spoke were about evenly divided.

Pastor Clare Chance of the Avondale United Methodist Church opposed the bill.

“I’m a Christian, and I believe that all people are God’s children. This definitely casts aspersions on my brothers and sisters who are different from me,” Chance said. “Yes, I am a heterosexual, but the LGBTQ people deserve respect, too.”

Speaking in favor of the bill was Elder Ervin Donaldson of the Zion Hill Primitive Baptist Church in Sopchoppy.

“I will not go against my God, and when you talk about family…family first starts with a man and a woman. I can’t see any other way,” Donaldson said. “I will not do it, and I will not let you all handcuff me for something I am doing right for God.”

The bill passed its second and final House committee by a vote of 12 to 5 and now heads for the floor.

The Senate companion bill passed its first committee last month and faces two more.

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