Florida Governor Rick Scott, a
Republican, on Thursday signed a bill into law that protects churches
from being forced to marry gay and lesbian couples.
The so-called “Pastor Protection Act”
cleared the Republican-led Senate with a 23-15 vote last Thursday, a
day after it cleared the House.
Opponents of the bill note that clergy
are currently protected under the First Amendment.
Republican Rep. Scott Plakon, the
bill's sponsor, has denied that his bill is a reaction to the Supreme
Court's finding that gay couples have a constitutional right to
marry, saying that his aim was to offer an “extra layer of
protection” to clergy opposed to marrying gay couples.
Rep. David Richardson, a Democrat from
Miami Beach and the Legislature's only openly gay member, described
the legislation as “an insult to the gay community.”