22 March 2016

Bill Approved Protecting Churches from Performing SSM

Florida Church
The independence of small towns and cities and the United States was clearly evident after a measure was proposed in Tallahassee, Florida that seeks to prevent churches from being forced to marry same-sex couples.

Gov. Rick Scott said last 3 March that he’ll sign the bill, which opponents say isn't necessary and is simply an overreaction to the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

Bill sponsor Sen. Aaron Bean acknowledged last year’s ruling is the reason for his bill, which passed on a 23-15 vote with only Republicans in favor and Democrats joined by only one Republican in opposition.

"A definition of marriage that many held sacred and part of their religious belief was turned upside down," said Bean, R-Fernandina Beach. "The entire marriage world turned upside down. Some celebrated and some are still scratching their heads, but that’s now the law of the land. So, that’s why we're here."

Democrats said the state and federal constitutions already protect churches and they can already refuse to marry any couple, gay or not, based on their religious beliefs. But nobody can say what the future holds, hence, the bill was necessary to prevent anybody from twisting the notion in the next couple of years.

The bill says churches and religious-based organizations also could bar gay couples from holding ceremonies and receptions at their facilities.

Bean said that the bill was about protecting churches from what could happen in the future and said he hopes his bill is unnecessary.

"Have you ever heard of a senator or a representative that hopes their bill is never used or tested? I’m the first," he said. "Hopefully no one will ever challenge somebody in the practice of their religion. That will be a sad day in our nation in our state … Some say that’s where our nation is headed."

The House passed the bill (HB 43) last 2 March. The law will take effect 1 July 2016.