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A call for peace: an open letter to Floridians | Column
Those of us from faith traditions believe that we are all created by a loving God who has commanded us to love each other.
A rainbow is seen over the Dunedin Causeway during sunset this summer in Dunedin.
A rainbow is seen over the Dunedin Causeway during sunset this summer in Dunedin. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Sep. 1|Updated Sep. 1

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

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