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Florida Bill Protecting Churches That Refuse Gay Weddings Called 'Ugly Show Of Animosity'

giveawayboy via Flickr

The next Florida legislative session doesn’t start until January, but committees are already meeting to consider bills. One measure up for discussion next week would shield churches when clergy refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Sen. Aaron Bean (R- Fernandina Beach) is among the sponsors of the bill that’s been called an “ugly show of animosity toward gay people.” Those were the words Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith used earlier this year, as the Florida News Service reports.

Should a clergy person refuse to marry a couple, the bill shields churches from criminal and civil liability, protects their tax exemptions and says their government contracts should remain intact.

But current law already allows ministers to refuse to marry anyone they choose — leading gay-rights advocates to accuse bill sponsors of an unnecessary display of homophobia.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee is scheduled to take the measure up on Wednesday, Oct. 7. 

Photo: "wedding chapel at first umc" used under Creative Commons license. 

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP