The Pastor Protection Act

In the wake of the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that determined same-sex marriage is a fundamental right according to the United States Constitution, there is an effort afoot here in Florida to recommend legislation titled “The Pastor Protection Act.”

It is an attempt to protect the right of pastors to perform only those marriages they deem to be in keeping with their religious beliefs. I am sure other states will be considering doing something similar.

Larry Griffin with the Lake City Reporter interviewed me and asked my opinion of the prospective legislation. While I appreciate the sentiment behind “The Pastor Protection Act,” I offered the candid opinion that it is “a waste of time.” I thought I would use this article to expound on my comment.

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of our nation. More specifically, it is what a majority of those nine black-robed justices known as the Supreme Court say it says. Article One, Section 27, of Florida’s Constitution, defining marriage as between one man and one woman, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge here in Florida. Any challenge to that ruling was dealt a coup d’etat by SCOTUS in its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The simple truth is that our state’s constitution and statutes are subordinate to the Constitution of the United States and the Supreme Court that interprets it. I believe my right to practice my convictions according to the Scriptures is protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

If the Supreme Court invents an exception to the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as they arrogated the right of the states to define and regulate marriage as provided in the Tenth Amendment, then no legislation here in the State of Florida can protect me. If SCOTUS does not uphold the freedoms enumerated to us in the Bill of Rights, then “The Pastor Protection Act” is a waste of time and will not be worth the paper it is written on.

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the majority opinion for the Court, found a fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry, but his ruling did not create a fundamental obligation on my part to solemnize such a union. That may be the next shoe to fall, but while governmental and judicial authorities can coerce me, they cannot ultimately force me to go against my conscience.

Our highest Court has proved to be incapable of defining marriage, the most basic unit of human society, and our President and Congress have been just as ineffective in providing common sense leadership in this matter.

Solomon tells us, “Many seek a ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the Lord,” Proverbs 29:27. His point is simple, ultimate justice for man does not rest with any earthly authority whether by legislation or decree. My protection and plea for justice is lodged with a much higher Court of Appeal.

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