TALLAHASSEE, FL – The bishops of Florida presented two state legislators with Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops Defensor Awards at a Catholic Days at the Capitol luncheon. Gathered for the awards presentation on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at the Civic Center in Tallahassee were the bishops of Florida, several state lawmakers and more than 300 Catholic faithful from across the state.
Senator Altman honored as Defender of Life
Senator Thad Altman, District 16, Melbourne, was presented with the Defensor Vitae (Defender of Life) Award for his ongoing, courageous and valiant defense of the sanctity of life.
During his tenure in the Senate, Altman has consistently sponsored legislation to require a unanimous jury recommendation for sentences of death. Additionally, he has been a stalwart pro-life vote and played a key role in adopting state policies to protect unborn life.
"With a knack for taking on difficult but important issues, Senator Altman has stood firm in his commitment to pro-life legislation," said Michael Sheedy, executive director, during the award presentation.
Senator Garcia honored as Defender of Dignity
Senator Rene Garcia, District 38, Hialeah, was presented with the Defensor Dignitatis (Defender of Dignity) Award for his ongoing efforts to protect the human dignity of the residents of our state.
As a servant to our state, Garcia has battled for the underserved. His fight for marginalized populations in Florida is evidenced by his valiant efforts to increase access to health care for the uninsured, promote improved juvenile sentencing policies, and enhance foster care. He also has been a key supporter and legislative champion of the San Juan Bosco Clinic in Miami.
Beyond the walls of the Capitol, Garcia has addressed the dignity of those in need through his work to establish the Safe Haven for Newborns program, service on the executive board of Camillus House, a program dedicated to assisting the homeless, and assistance in establishing the Children's Trust. Additionally, he has used his skills and education to serve Mercy Hospital in Miami both as staff and as a member of the board of trustees.
While presenting the award, Michael Sheedy, executive director, stated, "Senator Garcia has a great heart for the poor and the vulnerable, especially those who are young and who live at life's margins."
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is honored to recognize both Senator Altman and Senator Garcia as defenders of life and dignity.
Catholic Days at the Capitol is held annually during the Florida Legislative Session. Catholics from around the state gather in Tallahassee for a legislative briefing before attending scheduled meetings with their elected officials. Each year, during a luncheon for participants, selected lawmakers are honored for their work in the Florida Legislature. Click here for a list of past award recipients.
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The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of Florida. The archbishop and bishops of the seven (arch)dioceses in Florida constitute its board of directors.