House Bill 43 won its first approval Wednesday that would shield religious leaders from being accused of refusing to marry gay couples even though sponsors said churches already have the right.
The vote was 9-4 with all Republicans supporting it and all Democrats opposed.
HB 43 says that churches and clergy do not have to perform a wedding or allow a reception if it goes against held religious belief.
House Civil Justice Committee listened to many pastors who gave testimonial speeches on why they supported or opposed the bill.
Rev. Joseph Jones of Tallahassee Fla. gave his personal beliefs of the bill.
“I believe the churches should not be required (exempt from) to perform same sex marriages. According to the Holy Bible, which forms the basis of Christians belief, God intended marriage to be a solemn covenant between a man and woman.”
Some speakers called the bill unnecessary and inappropriate, while others thought it was necessary to go through because it would protect their religious rights.
According to the Washington Times, Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who is sponsoring the bill, thinks that it is necessary to add protection to an agenda.
“We think that it’s a good idea to put this in law now because it is difficult to predict where this is all going,” said Rep. Scott Plakon.
Marcus Lawerence, a Tallahassee native thinks that the bill is an assurance that many people do not support same-sex marriage.
“It seems like the bill was created to keep same-sex marriages out of churches,” Lawrence said. “Whether or not you support what the bill stands for, I don’t see reasons to have an early precaution for something churches pretty much already have the right to do.”
This bill has one more committee to pass through before it can be considered by the full house. The similar senate bill (SB110) has yet to be heard.