|Dear Victoria, have you seen the headlines in Georgia?
Just last week a sweeping religious exemption amendment was tacked on to Georgia’s “Pastor Protection” Act that will create an unprecedented license to discriminate. Just like here in Florida, bill sponsors claimed the bill would merely reinforce the fact that pastors can refuse to marry same-sex couples or anyone else if the marriage would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs. After the Senate ran amok adding nasty amendments, the legislation will now allow any person, business, or taxpayer-funded organization to refuse service to potential customers simply because they are gay, transgender, black, Muslim, or a single mother.
Florida’s so-called “Pastor Protection” Act (SB 110) will be heard on the Senate floor TOMORROW – Tuesday, February 23rd – at 10:00am ET, and our fears that this bad bill is about to become much worse are amplified by what just happened in Georgia. That’s why we need your support more than ever – ask key state senators to vote “NO” on this dangerous bill.
We’ve heard testimony in both chambers from bigot after bigot who support the Pastor Protection Act, calling gay people murderers and abusers, using every slur imaginable. Legislators have stated their support for expansions to Pastor Protection just like what we’ve seen in Georgia, and now more than ever, they need to hear from their constituents who oppose this bill. We can’t allow an expanded Pastor Protection Act to become law; we can’t allow legislators to re-introduce a shameful period of our nation’s history in which businesses were allowed to say “we don’t serve your kind here.”
This bill has been divisive and inflammatory from the start, and it’s especially insulting that the Senate has moved this bill forward, allegedly designed to add an “extra layer of protection” for pastors and churches, while the LGBT community continues to have zero protections in Florida statute.
Here’s the bottom line: No pastor or clergyperson has ever been sued for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding. Period. We know this bill is a political ploy meant to score points at our expense, and we cannot allow this bill to be a vehicle for sweeping religious exemptions that enable people to pick and choose which laws they will follow. Same-sex couples and all LGBT people have the right to earn a living, protect their families, and be treated fairly and equally in their communities. No one should be exempt from following the law.
As always, Equality Florida’s team will be on the front lines in Tallahassee all week to oppose this bill. We have less than 24 hours to get our message across: click here to contact the senators right away!
P.S. Here’s a link to find the name and contact information for your Senator – our elected officials need to hear from their constituents who oppose this bill! Be sure to give your name, street address, and phone number, and tell them you strongly urge your Senator to vote “NO” on SB 110!