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Florida’s Impending “Pastor Protection Act” Weds Spurious Scenarios With Homophobia

| July 16, 2015

We'll always have Vegas. (Matt Huff)

We’ll always have Vegas. (Matt Huff)

In the wake of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, a proposal by Republican lawmakers dubbed the “Pastor Protection Act” could fuel a debate during next year’s legislative session.


Backers of the measure, which is expected to be filed by state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, and Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, are already organizing on its behalf. The proposal is aimed at safeguarding clergy members from being forced to perform marriage ceremonies contrary to their principles, supporters say.

Plakon is collaborating with the Rev. Chris Walker, pastor of the Cathedral of Power International Church in Clermont and the author of an online petition that has garnered more than 21,000 signatures since July 1.

“Church networks are being mobilized as we speak,” Walker said. “I am being asked to speak at a lot of churches and groups to mobilize this movement, and we’re going to be very vigilant about protecting our rights to preach the Gospel.”

Walker’s petition at change.org calls for a bill that will “be clear that religious leaders and houses of worship can’t be forced by the government to violate their faith where marriage is concerned. … Religious leaders in the state of Florida must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that religious freedom is beyond the reach of government or coercion by the courts.”

But Nadine Smith, executive director of the advocacy group Equality Florida, said religious leaders are already protected by the First Amendment.

“They can and do refuse interracial couples,” Smith said. “They can and do refuse gay couples. They can and do refuse people who have different faiths. They can and do refuse people who have been previously married. They can just decide they don’t think you’re a good fit and refuse to conduct the ceremony.”

The proposed legislation, which is expected to be based on a new Texas law, is a reaction to last month’s Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry.

Plakon acknowledged that religious leaders are currently protected from performing marriages to which they object. But he said the landscape is changing so fast that additional protection is needed.

“Five years ago, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both believed in traditional marriage,” he said. “And (last month) the White House is lit up in rainbow colors. The trajectory of this is moving so that there is a lot of concern about where it ends.”

Signers of Walker’s petition echoed concerns about where the debate will move in the future.

“The Christians in this country are being persecuted for not agreeing with Sin, yes same Sex relationship is a Sin, just like killing babies is a Sin,” wrote Maurice Szust of Miami.

“I’m signing because the United States of America says that we stand on the Holy Bible, but our government has pulled totally away from what they say they are founded on,” wrote another supporter of the petition, Kenyon Turner of Apopka.

Walker has never been asked to perform a same-sex wedding. He said that while he wasn’t aware of any clergy member being sued for not doing so in Florida, “there are constant threats of it.”

Plakon said he hopes to keep the discussion at a “higher level” and has offered to meet with Equality Florida.

But Smith isn’t buying it.

“This is intended to be an ugly show of animosity toward gay people,” she said. “It has nothing to do with protecting religious freedom.”

–Margie Menzel, News Service of Florida

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28 Responses for “Florida’s Impending “Pastor Protection Act” Weds Spurious Scenarios With Homophobia”

  1. Knightwatch says:

    I trust that sanity will prevail and most Christian priests and pastors will accept gays and minister to them as they would anyone else. For those who pervert the Christian faith and discriminate against gays, you are the ones who are causing the decline of Christianity in the U.S. and throughout the world.

    As to those ignorant and divisive legislators who promote hate and fear, we must vote them out as quickly as we can. Vote progressive in 2016!

  2. groot says:

    Don’t make any ordained person perform a ceremony they don’t want to. It benefits no one. I mean who wants that? There are plenty of clergy who will provide a ceremony willingly. I think this is more aimed at our litigious society as with the cake lawsuit in Portland.

  3. Sherry E says:

    While I am a highly spiritual person and lean towards Buddhism more than any other faith, I can’t imagine the government “over reaching” to the point of legally requiring any religious ceremony be conducted that is against the values of that religion. I personally think this is a massive overreaction, as pointed out in this article.

    Saying that, if religious leaders feel they need the extra protection of laws that prohibit them from being forced into conducting such ceremonies, then I’m all for it! The legal agreement of marriage really has nothing to do with religious ceremonies anyway.

    • Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

      They won’t. This is feel-good, useless legislation designed to make some conservative legislators look good by defending the right of conservative christian wingnuts to be conservative christian wingnuts. It’s the legislative equivalent of Jade Helm 15 nutbaggery, except instead of invoking obama’s secret torture centers in hidden tunnels under walmarts they’re hidden under southern baptist churches instead.

    • THE VOICE OF REASON says:

      Sherry: Like the government would never “overreach” to require business owners to provide health care that violates the values of that business owner.

      That could never happen either. Right?

      • Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

        And a company would certainly never openly discriminate against people based on sexual orientation, gender, race, or disability, right?

  4. Flatsflyer says:

    These dumb Fucks will be ensuring all of their racists and bigoted associates will be getting $5.00 Clergy Certificates. Then they can also stop paying taxes in addition to not performing weddings. The Religious Right are no different than the Taliban, Sharia Law = Biblical Laws. Both groups have the same goal, Destroy America through Religion, Hate and Ignorance.

  5. Larry says:

    More diversionary tactics fighting over these nonsense emotional issues and avoiding the real issues the politicians are afraid to touch.

  6. Lancer says:

    This is needed legislation. In Oregon, for instance, a bakery that has refused to make a gay wedding cake, based on religious principles, is being sued and gag ordered by the state government. This is a wanton abuse of power and blatant attack on what founded this country…religious freedom. This is a baseless suit by a trial lawyer…there are other bakeries and no ones rights are being infringed upon by a cake not being made by this establishment.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/oregon-bakery-gay-wedding-sweet-cakes-by-melissa-fundraising-120153.html

    • Samuel L. Bronkowitz says:

      I disagree. That bakery violated Oregon law, which states that businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, race, sex, disability, age, or religion. If you choose to operate a business in Oregon, you agree to follow said law if you want to keep your business license and not be open to suit under it. The owners claim that their first amendment rights were violated, but that’s nonsense. A business could just as easily claim a first amendment right violation for choosing to not serve blacks because they bear the mark of Cain, or women because they aren’t servile as dictated by the writings of Paul, or the disabled because they harbor demons and they would be charged with violating this law as well. If they want to run their business on religion principle then they should incorporate it as a religious nonprofit and they wouldn’t be in violation of the law, and they’d be free to discriminate against whoever they wanted to in the name of Jesus, which is exactly what he said good Christians should do.

    • Jesus Rules says:

      Amen!!!

  7. Jose Caniusi says:

    Now that religion has entered the political arena,it’s time to tax the bastards.

  8. Commom Sense says:

    This is another waste of taxpayers time and money. It is not needed. It is just the extreme right trying to delay the progress of history.

    The comparison to the bakery is totally off base. The hardware store doesn’t get to stop selling me nuts and bolts because of my sexual preferences and neither does the bakery.

  9. Patriot76 says:

    As I argued in favor of the legalization of Same-sex marriage from a Constitutional and legal perspective; I will do the same in support of the majority of this bills principles.

    The Constituion protects the right and freedom of religion, which means the government cannot force you to practice something against your religion… Unless of course you by tax code establish yourself as “for-profit”

    I believe any religious organization that operates as a non profit will and should be protected, but the second you choose to practice business and not simply religion, you need to own up to the same rules and regulations of every other business. Period.

    It’s not just about religious equity at that point, but also about business equity. If your religion is about money then own up to it

  10. m&m says:

    Marriage is between a man and a woman. God created men and women with reproductive organs. Now they’re used in disregard for family and church.

  11. THE VOICE OF REASON says:

    Can I get an Amen?

  12. CarleyB says:

    Hope this law passes!! So sick of being bull dozed by these liberals!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Exactly, Larry. Waste of tme & taxpayers’ $s.
    Wish l wasn’t going out cause l’m gonna miss Sherry’s response to voice of reason(?). :)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Don’t want family or church in my bedroom. Every homosexual l know has as much class, discretion and tact as my straight acquantances. And it’s just backward thinking that sex is only about reproduction. Christians are supposed to be joyful :) …and smart!

  15. Sherry E says:

    Hi Anonymous,

    Greetings from Hoorn, Netherlands. . . going out for a day in Amsterdam today. . . BUT, most certainly will be responding to comments by voice of reason, soon! You can most certainly count on it! LOL!

  16. karma says:

    Homosexuality is a sin and is spelled out quit clearly.(Romans 1&2) So why would any gay want to married by the church.They can do the same thing at the court house or by a Notary.

    Many so called “churches” are nothing more than motivational speaking platforms (Joel Osteen) to make people feel good about themselves and make millions of dollars tax free. Other churches are like the public school system and only teach what is politically correct so as not to offend anyone. A true church who teaches the Bible, verse by verse, they will be the real target of hate, lawsuits, government regulations and so on.

  17. Sherry E says:

    Ahhhh you wonderful, educated, reasonable, logical, open minded readers like Samuel Bronkowitz , Anonymous, Patriot 76, Common Sense, Knightwatch, ET AL . . . you’ve made such excellent, intelligent points, while I was out playing in the beautiful canals . . . what is there to add?

    I think it is worth repeating that comparing the legislative rights of “true” religious leaders to the owners of bigoted companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil A is nothing short of ridiculous. . . and should be highly insulting to any true believer in the mercy and understanding of a loving God. Again, the laws for private industries, versus religious entities are completely different, and will continue to be that way. The fear mongers and haters are stirring up their zombie d followers just to keep them controlled, so they will vote as they are told in future elections.

    As shocking as it may sound. . . the bible was written by MEN! Men who occasionally had as their agenda the power to control the masses for their own political and financial gains. Mary, Joseph and Jesus were NOT lily white or English speaking ( the same as Cleopatra) . . . Yes, really! The bible has been massively changed and translated over and over again, during these 2,015 years. AND. . . most importantly, it was never to be taken literally, especially as a guide to religious cultures spanning the entire globe for over 2,000 years.

    A loving God is accepting of ALL human beings and ALL human suffering, without discrimination. Sadly, I do not read much of that kind of compassion from the religious zealots here. . . on this and many other subjects. Maybe that’s why I have chosen to move away from the man made judgmental teachings I see and hear from many Christian ministries.

    I urge all those with human hate in their hearts to break free, dust off those brain cells, do your own research, form your own opinions, open your hearts and vote for a change. Vote for an accepting and caring political and social structure that will make our nation more powerfully just and good for each and every person in the USA for the next 2015 years!

  18. Jason says:

    Ask yourself this; does your church perform weddings where one or both couples are divorced? Isn’t that a sin too, do you enforce that?

  19. MEB says:

    This is so stupid. Pastors do not have to marry anyone they do not want to. If they don’t want to marry anyone for any reason, they don’t have to! They don’t need a law for that.

  20. karma says:

    Our loving god is also a just god. Each and everyone of us will be judged by a righteous judge. Hobby Lobby and Chic fil-a included. The bible is the manual on how to live life.
    If I am wrong in my beliefs and there is nothing after death, I have lost nothing. But if I am right, I gained everything. Can you say the same?

  21. Larry says:

    karma, Read Pascal’s Wager it’s a 17th century argument which has been thoroughly disputed by many secularists.
    The wager asks that you become a credulous, cringing, unprincipled serf. That after a lifetime of non belief you, the one who is made so you cannot believe, hedge your bets and act like you believe. This is the way religion degrades argument, dignity and self-respect. Bertrand Russell said “Lord you did not give us enough evidence” There is no God but Allah…..Just kidding there is no God…..

  22. Sherry E says:

    Karma. . . YES, I most certainly can!!!! Except that in my life filled with the love, peace and joy I create and perceive every day, my version of heaven is enjoyed NOW. . . with every moment of life!

  23. CT Cuthbertson says:

    Excuse me! Has anyone anywhere of any political party, pro gay, anti-gay, in government, out of government, suggested, advocated, or editorialized in favor of government forcing pastors in Florida to perform gay weddings in or out of their places of worship???? Check it out and get back to me, OK?

    In my personal opinion, what we may be dealing with here is simply a few cheap, pandering politicians fishing for the votes of the stupidest of the stupid in our state.

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