Nearly 500 faith leaders call for support for LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections

ORLANDO, Fla. — Faith leaders from Central Florida held a news conference Monday to commemorate five years since the Pulse nightclub shooting and announce their support for LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.

READ: Orlando to remember lives lost 5 years after Pulse nightclub shooting

A group of about a dozen pastors, rabbis, and other religious leaders spoke out Monday afternoon.

Pastor Joel Hunter, the former senior pastor of megachurch Northland, said he realized he may have been part of the problem facing the LGBTQ community.

READ: Pulse documentary returning to Orlando theater this week

“Thinking we’re being holy, thinking we’re being righteous when really we are just not completing the mission of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves,” said Hunter, chairman of the Community Resource Network.

Leaders also released a signed statement from nearly 500 faith leaders across Florida calling on elected officials to honor the 49 lives taken at Pulse with courage and action by supporting federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans.

READ: Remembering Pulse: Officials release schedule of events to honor victims

They also want the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which would expand protections to people no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. It was passed by the House but still needs a vote by the Senate.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.

Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.