January 29, 2016
In the wake of last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that redefined marriage to accommodate same-sex couples, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday voted (
) to approve SB 110 (Bean), a measure dubbed the 'Pastor Protection Act.'
The bill prevents churches or religious organizations - or individuals employed by these entities, including clergy - from being forced to solemnize any marriage or provide services, facilities or goods for related purposes if such action would violate sincerely held religious beliefs. The bill protects these entities and individuals from certain legal actions, penalties, or government sanctions.
FCCB supports this measure recognizing that religious freedom requires protection in the face of so many uncertainties under the law as a result of the High Court's decision. While clergy are currently protected from performing marriages to which they object, layers of protection in law can be helpful, especially if they stave off frivolous litigation. Robust protections for religious and moral convictions related to marriage especially need to be defined for individuals and agencies licensed by the State of Florida to provide various services, such as foster care and adoption.
Companion bill, HB 43 (Plakon), was on the agenda for the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday; however, the bill was temporarily postponed as the committee meeting time neared expiration.