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The organization is concerned Lighthouse Baptist Church’s political views will suppress LGBTQ turn-out

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — A LGBT organization is pushing for change before the end of Pride Month.

Fernandina Beach Pride wants to a see a polling location changed because of concerns over voter safety.

“This voting station is not safe for our members of our organization, our friends allies and their families.”

Fernandina Beach Pride Board Member Connor Fasel says Pride Month went pretty swimmingly this year for the city’s LGBTQ community.

They received an official proclamation for Pride month, felt support downtown and held a parade a few weeks ago.

However, that parade was not well received by the whole Fernandina Beach community.

“We were speaking out against the city, and it was just the activities they were agreeing to that we disagreed with,” said Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church Pastor Mark Stalnaker. “It had nothing to do with singling out people.”

Stalnaker posted several videos of sermons speaking out against the city’s decision to allow a pride parade, and posted a message shaming the council on the church’s marquee.

Fasel says his issue isn’t with the church expressing its perspective,

“We 100% stand in support of free speech and the 1st amendment, always, no exceptions,” said Fasel.

However, he says some members of Fernandina Beach Pride don’t feel safe or comfortable heading to the church to cast their ballots in the November election.

The church only recently became a polling location, and Fasel is worried the views may suppress LGBT turn out.

“The refusal to relocate it is an example of voter suppression and intimidation,” said Fasel.

Nassau County Supervisor of Elections Janet Adkins says the office considers accessibility, parking, kitchen capabilities and power outlets when deciding precincts, but they don’t scroll through Facebook pages looking for political conflicts.

She says they’ll be moving forward with the current list of locations this year.

“I’ve committed to reevaluating all polling locations at the end of 2022,” said Adkins.

Adkins says voters can vote early in August at any polling locations or request a mail-in ballot, however, Fernandina Beach Pride feels everyone needs equal opportunity throughout the process, including Election Day.

Stalnaker says they’ll be preparing to welcome anyone to vote in November.

“People should feel just as safe as they would going anywhere,” said Stalnaker.

“Every single one of us, regardless of creed or orientation, is entitled to safe and fair elections,” said Fasel. “If that becomes impossible, then it’s a violation of people’s rights.”

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