Democratic congressional candidate Stephanie Murphy blasted her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. John Mica, Wednesday for his co-sponsorship of a bill she characterized as anti-gay rights — and then sitting silently through a hearing on the bill one month after the Orlando massacre at the popular gay nightclub Pulse.
The First Amendment Defense Act, House Resolution 2802, was debated Tuesday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on which Mica sits. Tuesday also was the one-month anniversary of the Pulse massacre.
Murphy called Mica’s silence during the debate “unimaginable,” considering the Republican represents a community still grieving over the massacre of 49 people at the gay nightclub by a madman shooter who both expressed his loyalty to the international jihadist terrorist organization ISIS and his hatred of gays.
The bill seeks to assure religious freedom, by explicitly forbidding the federal government from cracking down on any organization, business or individual that discriminates based on personal beliefs that marriage should be should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage. The bill is widely seen by LGBT groups as direct backlash against gays and gay rights, particularly the right to marry bestowed a year ago in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Mica is a cosponsor of the HR 2802, as are fellow Central Florida Republicans U.S. Reps. Bill Posey of Rockledge and Dan Webster of Winter Garden.
“Debating anti-LGBT legislation one month after the horrific tragedy at Orlando’s Pulse Night Club is unimaginable coming from a congressman who represents Orlando, Florida,” Murphy said in a written statement sent to FloridaPolitics.com. “While Orlando is a diverse, loving community, John Mica’s silence yesterday while Washington Republicans were attacking the LGBT community, just shows his unwillingness to do what is right, even when our community is attempting to heal from a great tragedy.”
Mica and his campaign were not immediately available Wednesday to respond to Murphy’s criticism.
Murphy, a Rollins College business professor and former Defense Department analyst, only entered the race late last month to challenge Mica in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, which covers north-central Orange County and Seminole County. Mica is a 12-term incumbent in what had for a long time been a safe Republican district. But this year’s congressional redistricting in Florida has shaved the Republican voter registration advantage to a much narrower margin over Democrats. Both are from Winter Park.