As citizens and leaders in the state of Florida, we are extremely concerned that the ongoing conflicts between religious rights and LGBTQ rights are poisoning our civil discourse, eroding the free exercise of religion and preventing diverse people of good will from living together in peace and mutual respect.
It is time to assert clearly that we believe in the values of freedom, equality, and fairness for all. We join a growing number of faith and community leaders from around the country in support of non-discrimination legislation that protects all people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, while also protecting important religious rights.
No one should be denied these protections based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and likewise religious persons and institutions should be protected in practicing their faith. Those of us from faith traditions believe that we are all created by a loving God who has commanded us to love each other. We are all also Americans with a long tradition of figuring out how to get along despite deep differences.
LGBTQ rights and religious rights do not have to be in conflict. In fact, many LGBTQ people are themselves people of deep faith. Now is the time to set aside political motives, malice and misrepresentations and commit to respectful dialogue and good-faith engagement.
We believe that the state of Florida is uniquely positioned to come together to protect all people, unify our communities and help bring healing to our nation on what for too long has been a divisive issue. That may not be easy in this time of polarization, and it will certainly require goodwill and mutual accommodation, but it can and must be done.
We respectfully urge all Floridians and leaders at every level of government to join in support of these common values and core principles in a balanced approach to provide protections for LGBTQ persons as well as people and institutions of faith.
Sincerely, (the undersigned)
Here is a list of religious and community leaders who signed on to this letter.
Elder Victor P. Patrick, Area Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Nadine Smith, executive director, Equality Florida
Barbara Poma, founder, onePULSE Foundation
Elder Daniel P. Amato, Area Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Rev. Dr. Joel C. Hunter, faith-based president, Parable Foundation
The Rev. Alison P. Harrity, rector, St. Richard’s Episcopal Church in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida
Josh Bell, executive director, One Orlando Alliance
The Rev. Tracie Barrett, University Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Board of directors, JAM & ALL Interfaith of South Florida
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Martha Kirby, congregational president, University Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Rabbi Joshua Lobel
Rhonda Thomas, executive director, Faith in Florida
Kamran Rouhani, Baha’i Garden of Ridvan
Rabbi Dan Levin, The Clergy of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
Jasbir Bahtia, Sikh Society of Central Florida
Rabbi Jessica Spitalnic Mates, The Clergy of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
The Rev. Jad Denmark, Minister of Congregational Life, St. Luke’s Methodist Church
Rabbi Elana Rabinshaw, The Clergy of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
The Rev. Melissa Cooper, Minister of Worship, St. Luke’s Methodist Church
Rabbi Greg Weisman, The Clergy of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
The Rev. Jeremy Green, Minister of New Communities, St. Luke’s Methodist Church
Cantor Lori Brock, The Clergy of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
The Rev. Benjamin Collins, Exec. Director, All Saints, District Coordinator, ECD|FLUMC
Rabbi Amy Grossblatt Pessah, The Clergy of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
The Rev. Madeline Luzinski, clergy, United Methodist Church — Florida UM Children’s Home
Rabbi David Baum, Congregation Shaarei Kodesh Boca Raton
Dr. Reuben Romirowsky, CFO, Jack & Lee Rosen Jewish Community Center
Cathy Ostroff, Kol Ami Congregation of Boca Raton
Addison K. Mitchell, pastor of Park Memorial Missionary Baptist Church — West Cocoa
Dr. Barbara Lunde and Rev. Jill Guerra, The Center for Spiritual Living Boca Raton
The Rev. Esther Rodriguez, Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church
David Jobin, president & CEO, Our Fund Foundation
David Kimball, humanist, Cleveland Clinic-Center
Robert Kesten, executive director, Stonewall National Museum & Archives
The Rev. Andrew C. Jack Diehl III, pastor emeritus
Terry Dyer, executive director, World Aids Museum and Educational Center
Carol Ludwig, executive director, Center for Spiritual Care
Dr. James T. Morris, Presiding Elder, Central Florida District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil
The Rev. Fr. Charles T. Myers, rector, The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist, Orlando
The Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Senior Pastor of Joy Metropolitan Community Church
Bishop Derrick L. McRae, Senior Pastor & CEO, The Experience Christian Center
The Rev. Meghan Killingsworth, Co-Pastor First UMC, Sanford
The Rev. David Killingsworth, Co-Pastor First UMC, Sanford
The Rev. Dr. Jenn Stiles Williams, Lead Pastor, St Lukes UMC
Claudia Schippert, Abbot, Orlando Zen Center