Shameful Legislation Passed by Florida House Committee Mirrors Discriminatory Intent of Indiana Law, Puts Anti-LGBT Bias Above Best Interest of Children
Washington - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and Equality Florida today strongly condemned a vote by the Florida House Judiciary Committee in favor of an adoption bill that would enable discrimination - with taxpayer dollars - against prospective LGBT parents, and place children seeking a permanent home at continued risk.
“This flies in the face of our responsibility to find permanent families and safe, loving homes for every child - including the more than 14,000 children currently in foster care in Florida,” said Ellen Kahn, director of HRC’s Children, Youth and Families Program. “Shame, shame, shame on these legislators for playing political football with children’s lives.”
“This will be a disaster for Florida at a time when businesses across the country are lining up to call out and take action against anti-LGBT bills," said Carlos Guillermo Smith of Equality Florida.
The new bill would enshrine special discrimination rights into Florida law by allowing any private adoption agency -- both secular and religious, and including agencies that receive taxpayer dollars -- to discriminate against prospective parents based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as on family status, and religious or political beliefs.
"This is Indiana-style legalized discrimination plain and simple," said Guillermo Smith. "But it's even worse, because this promotes state-sanctioned and taxpayer-funded discrimination. The legislators who voted for this bill know it is as indefensible as it is unnecessary. That's why they blocked an amendment that would have required businesses to state publicly, ‘we don't serve your kind.’ ”
The bill strips prospective parents of legal recourse if they’ve been discriminated against and prohibits the state from withholding taxpayer money from discriminatory agencies. One of the cruelest consequences of the bill is that it would allow agencies to refuse to place foster children with members of their extended families - a practice often considered to be in the best interest of the child - based on the relative’s marital situation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. A loving, unmarried grandparent, for example, or a stable, welcoming relative of a different faith could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.
“This bill would allow discrimination against qualified families, and puts personal biases over the best interest of the child,” said HRC’s Kahn. “I challenge these legislators to look into the eyes of these kids and tell them they’re going to have to wait years longer for a home because of this action.”
HRC and Equality Florida call on fair-minded legislators and residents to stop this blatantly discriminatory effort on behalf of the children of their state.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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