Pastor protection bill: More than meets the eye

Posted at 10:48 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 22:48:39-05

Opponents of a bill written to protect churches from having to perform same sex marriages say it is written so broadly, it promotes discrimination.

Senate Bill 210 would shield churches or religious organizations from lawsuits if they refuse to perform same sex marriages.

It was filed last year by Senator Aaron Bean, (R-Jacksonville).

“His bill was absolutely a response to the Supreme Court ruling that reaffirms the right of same sex couples to get married," said Government Affairs Manager for Equality Florida, Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Smith says he doesn’t oppose the right of churches to officiate or not officiate these weddings.  He says the law is too broad and anyone can use it as an excuse to discriminate against same sex couples.

“You could deny, goods, services, accommodations, and privileges, because you have a religious objection to the wedding."

It’s been 8 months since the Supreme Court ruled same sex marriages legal in all 50 states, some Southwest Floridians still believe the high court's ruling can't over rule the bible.

"I'm a firm believer in the bible, and the bible tells us that same sex marriage is an abomination,” said Naples Resident Jack Aliotta.

Others say this proposal will protect the balance of church and state.

"If a church wants to perform a marriage of any two people, they should be able to do that, but if a church doesn't approve of any two people, then they should be able to not do it,” said Rita Spomar.

The legislation still needs a vote in both the house and the senate. The legislative session ends March 15th.