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Florida House Passes Bill Allowing Private Adoption Agencies to Discriminate Against Gay Couples

Florida

By a 75-38 vote today, the Florida House voted for a "conscience protection" bill allowing private adoption agencies to refuse placement of children with same-sex couples, the Tallahassee Democrat reports:

Proponents said the measure by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, would prevent some adoption agencies from halting services because of moral convictions against gay marriage. Opponents, mostly Democrats, argued that the bill (HB 7111) amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays.

The bill does not specifically mention gays. It permits agencies with written codes of ethics to refuse adoptions sought by parents whose lifestyles are at odds with the agency.

RichardsonRep. David Richardson (right), D-Miami Beach, told the House about feeling fear as a boy in 1977, seeing Anita Bryant conducting her notorious campaign to repeal a Miami-Dade County gay-rights ordinance. He said 36 states now recognize same-sex marriage and predicted that the issue will be resolved nationwide in a Supreme Court ruling next summer.

“This fight is over,” Richardson told the GOP majority. “Your fight is not with me. Your fight is not with the Democratic Party. Your fight is not with the gay community.

“Your fight is among yourselves because certain factions in the Republican Party are not going to yield to what is happening in society.”

The AP adds:

The bill now goes to the Senate, which rejected similar language Wednesday in a separate adoption bill. That bill, already approved by the House, strips the gay adoption ban from state law to comply with a five-year-old court decision saying it was unconstitutional.


Orlando Man Attacked by Group for Being Gay: VIDEO

Orlando

An attack on an Orlando man last month which was captured on a cell phone as it happened was motivated by the man's sexual orientation, according to police.

WFTV reports:

The victim, who doesn't want to be identified, said he was jumped by about 10 people and now fears for his and his family's safety.

He believes the beat-down stemmed from a fight at the Callahan Community Center, in Parramore, and that the group was looking to settle the score with anyone in the neighborhood who happened to be gay.

The video shows the mob of teens ambushing the victim while screaming statements about his sexual orientation. He's seen on the ground being punched and slammed with chairs before managing to break away.

A 14- and 16- year old have been identified as two of the attackers and police are working to identify the others.

Watch WFTV's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Orlando Man Attacked by Group for Being Gay: VIDEO" »


Florida Bakery Receives Death Threats After Refusing to Bake Anti-gay Cake for Televangelist Troll: VIDEO

Florida

A Longwood, Florida bakery owner said she is receiving death threats and losing business after refusing to bake a cake with an anti-gay message.

FeuersteinJoshua Feuerstein, an Arizona-based former televangelist, recorded a video of him calling Cut the Cake bakery and asking if they'd be willing to make a cake that said, "We do not support gay marriage." Owner Sharon Haller refused and hung up on the call, leading Feuerstein to warn:

"We've got to wake up America because soon if somebody preaches against gay marriage - and I love gay people, for me this is nothing against gay people, for me this is about religious freedom - they're going to be ripping pastors out of pulpits, closing churches down because somebody preaches a message out of Scripture that does not agree with the homosexual lifestyle. And next thing you know, they're in jail."

In a Skype interview with local news, Feuerstein also huffed and puffed about how there's an apparent double standard in America today when it comes to the intersection of homosexuality and sweet treats. 

WKMG Local 6 reports:

"I wanted to see if it was actually a double standard; if a gay-friendly bakery and one that advertised themselves as so on pro-LGBT wedding sites would actually bake a cake that went against their principles," said Feuerstein.

Haller said the experiment came at her expense.

"We started getting some hundreds of phone calls and making very nasty and negative gestures towards our business, towards us," said Haller.

HallerHaller (pictured right) said she has been loosing business because people are putting bad reviews online. She has filed a report with the police and is considering taking legal action against Feuerstein for illegally recording their phone call. Feuerstein posted the video on his Facebook page and encouraged his over 1 million followers to call the bakery and "see what discrimination really is." He has since taken the video down. Meanwhile, a GoFundMe account has been set up by Cut the Cake to "supplement our business due to (current day and future) loss of sales."

Watch Feuerstein's original video and a Local 6 report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Back in February, Matt Baume released a fantastic video outlining why there's a big difference between bakeries refusing to sell wedding cakes to gays and bakeries refusing to sell cakes with slurs or hurtful messages. 

Continue reading "Florida Bakery Receives Death Threats After Refusing to Bake Anti-gay Cake for Televangelist Troll: VIDEO" »


Florida Lawmaker Cuts Off 10-Year-Old With Two Dads Testifying In Support Of Gay Adoption: VIDEO

Gill

Despite concerns about Indiana-style backlash, a Florida House panel on Thursday approved a bill that would allow adoption agencies to discriminate against gays based on their religious convictions.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 11-4 along party lines to approve the measure, which now proceeds to the full House. However, passage is unlikely because there is no companion in the Senate, according to The Tallahassee Democrat

Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, said some of the 82 non-governmental adoption agencies in Florida do not approve of unmarried couples, single parents or gays adopting children. He said his bill (HB 7111) was aimed at protecting their moral objections, while allowing parents seeking an adoption to use other offices – including the state Department of Children and Families – for such placements.

“This legislation is Indiana-style discrimination, plain and simple,” Carlos Gillermo Smith, representing Equality Florida, told the House Judiciary Committee. “The timing here couldn’t be worse. This will be a disaster for Florida at a time when businesses are taking out their actions against states that are promoting anti-gay legislation that is just like this. This threatens Florida’s tourism-based economy.”

The bill was introduced shortly after the House voted to repeal the state's unconstitutional ban on gay adoption. Similar bills have been introduced in other states, including Michigan and Texas.  

Martin-GillNathaniel Gill, 10, whose gay father was the plaintiff in the case that overturned Florida's ban on gay adoption, testified Thursday against the bill. But Nathaniel's testimony was abruptly cut off by the Republican committee chair, who told him he had exceeded the one-minute time limit.  

Nathaniel recalled how he was placed in foster care at four months after his 4-year-old brother went to a neighbor's house to beg for food. 

"I was lucky to be placed with my brother, he was all I had, and he has looked after me since I was born," Nathaniel said. "In the home where DCS placed us we had two dads. We were happy and liked our new home a lot." 

But when Nathaniel was 2, the state planned to separate him from his brother because they said his brother wasn't adoptable. After Nathaniel was cut off during the committee hearing, Equality Florida posted a clip of the full testimony he planned to give. 

"They didn't think anyone would want the two of us," Nathaniel said. "For me that would have been a horrible mistake, but somebody did want the two of us, my two dads. I didn't want to get adopted by myself, I didn't want a new family. My brother and my two dads were the only family I knew. Luckily for me, my dads were very stubborn. They fought the state for four years. They won and beat the law, and that's how we made a forever family." 

Watch the clip of Nathaniel getting cut off, as well as his full testimony, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Florida Lawmaker Cuts Off 10-Year-Old With Two Dads Testifying In Support Of Gay Adoption: VIDEO" »


Trans Activist Michael Hughes Discusses Viral #WeJustNeedToPee Campaign With MSNBC's Thomas Roberts: VIDEO

Hughes.Michael

Michael Hughes had been suicidal for years — and even attempted to take his life once — when he accidentally stumbled upon a book that would change his life forever. 

The book was "Body Alchemy," by photographer Loren Cameron, a compilation of images of trans men before and after their transitions. 

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c762a0ff970b-250wi"It was the first time I realized that I could do something about it, and there was a path to take to become the person I knew myself to be," Hughes said. "So within a couple of weeks of that I packed up and moved from Texas to Boston, Massachusetts, and changed my name a week later, and started this crazy journey. 

Hughes, of course, is the 45-year-old Minnesota activist who brought the #WeJustNeedToPee campaign to the US, following the lead of Canada's Brae Carnes. The campaign continues to garner significant attention, and this week Hughes appeared on MSNBC to discuss it with Thomas Roberts. 

Hughes also spoke to The Advocate, explaining that for him personally, the campaign marked a major turning point:  

"It was a bit of a tough decision, I knew I was forever outing myself," but "I knew I could get at some of these conservatives by showing them a tall bearded man in a women's bathroom," Hughes says, taking a break from preparing himself for a Wednesday interview on MSNBC about the selfie campaign. Hughes notes that before the unexpected publicity his photos have garnered, he primarily lived stealth — a term used in the trans community when a trans person is not open about their trans status. 

Hughes said despite the campaign's popularity, he's gotten some negative feedback from within the LGBT community. But Hughes, a father of four, said he wishes more trans people would follow his lead and become more visible: 

"Our youngest had to come out to her friends [about having a trans parent] when this broke," he says. "She's so brave and she was so proud to do it. She brought me cupcakes yesterday because she wanted to celebrate with me!

"It's sad that [legislators] imagine us to be these people that are so removed from normal," Hughes laments. "Yet we're as normal as the family next door."

Watch Hughes' interview with Roberts and check out some of the latest photos from the #WeJustNeedToPee campaign, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Trans Activist Michael Hughes Discusses Viral #WeJustNeedToPee Campaign With MSNBC's Thomas Roberts: VIDEO" »


Bills Targeting Gay Adoption Advance In Florida, Michigan, Become Flavor Of Week In Anti-LGBT Legislation

HRCmap

We've seen the "license to discriminate" bills that would allow businesses to turn away LGBT people based on religious beliefs. We've seen the bills that would prohibit cities from adding LGBT protections. We've seen the bills directly targeting same-sex marriage, such as revoking the salaries of clerks who issue licenses to gay couples — or even doing away with them altogether. And we've seen the bills that would make it a crime for transgender people to use restrooms according to their gender identity. 

Now, proposals targeting gay adoption have advanced in Florida and Michigan, with similar measures introduced in other states, signaling the latest flavor of anti-LGBT legislation in response to the spread of same-sex marriage to 38 states. (The Human Rights Campaign reports that 85 anti-LGBT bills have now been filed in 26 state legislatures, as shown on the map above.)

The Michigan House voted 65-44 on Wednesday to approve measures that would allow adoption agencies that contract with the state to discriminate against gays if it's part of their "sincerely held religious beliefs." The Hufffington Post reports: 

The legislation would protect agencies refusing service over religious beliefs from “adverse action” by the state, including limiting public funding and “discriminating against the child placing agency.”

A series of Democrats spoke in opposition to the bills on the House floor Wednesday, arguing that it is backwards to make it potentially more difficult for LGBT families to adopt while there are several thousand children in Michigan waiting to find parents.

"No matter how well intentioned, these [bills] will produce bad results," said Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). "They put the best interest of the agency over the child, they are discriminatory ... They violate our state constitution by elevating some religious beliefs above others. ... They allow agencies to pick and choose what children they want to service [without having to be transparent].”

Meanwhile, a Florida House committee approved a similar measure — coincidentally, one week after the full House voted to repeal the state's unconstitutional ban on gay adoption. From The Florida Times-Union

Now, conservative groups are warning that some private agencies would close their doors rather than comply with a state law allowing gays and lesbians to adopt.

“My fear … is that some wonderful organizations who promote some forever families might likely have to shut down because they can’t reconcile their beliefs with the state,” said House Health & Human Services Chairman Jason Brodeur ... 

The “conscience protection” bill would prevent the state from denying funds or licenses to private adoption agencies that refuse to make placements conflicting with the agencies’ written religious beliefs.

Shockingly, one supporter of the Florida bill acknowledged that in addition to licensing discrimination against gays, the bill would allow agencies affiliated with one faith to turn away parents from another: 

“So as a single Jewish woman who was raised Catholic, I need not apply if I want to adopt a child?” asked Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation.

“It probably would not be facilitated through a Catholic organization,” acknowledged Michael Sheedy of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Maybe the "unintended consequences" of these "religious freedom" bills aren't so unintended after all. 


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