House passes bill saying churches don’t have to wed gays

Rep. Scott Plakon said the bill simply gives pastors added protection.

Rep. Scott Plakon said the bill simply gives pastors added protection.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida law would say churches can’t be forced to marry same-sex couples under a bill passed by the House, despite opponents who say the legislation isn’t needed.

The 82-37 vote on Wednesday came after more than an hour of debate.

Democrats said the U.S. Constitution already protects churches and that they can refuse to marry any couple, whether they are gay or not, based on their religious beliefs.

But Rep. Scott Plakon said the bill simply gives pastors added protection. He said he hopes it is never needed. The vote was largely along party lines, with most Republicans in favor and most Democrats opposed.

A similar bill is ready for a Senate vote.

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