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Florida Lawmaker Wants To Throw Transgender People In Jail For Going To The Bathroom

Artiles

A Florida lawmaker wants to throw transgender people in jail for, well, using public restrooms. 

Representative Frank Artiles, R-Miami, introduced a bill this week that would make it a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, for transgender people to use public restrooms — or fitting rooms or locker rooms — according to their gender identity. On top of that, the bill would allow people to file lawsuits against those who violate the law, as well as owners of businesses where violations took place, and recover attorneys' fees. 

We're not kidding, folks, this is actual legislation that's been introduced in the nation's fourth-largest state.

Artiles reportedly filed it in response to Miami-Dade County's recent decision to ban discrimination based on gender identity in public accommodations. He told The Miami Herald his No. 1 concern is public safety, but needless to say he cares nothing about the safety of transgender people. 

“The purpose of this act is to secure privacy and safety for all individuals using single-sex public facilities,” House Bill 538 states. “Single-sex public facilities are places of increased vulnerability and present the potential for crimes against individuals using those facilities, including, but not limited to, assault, battery, molestation, rape, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.”

From The Miami Herald

“It’s not that the transgender or the gender identity community is dangerous by any means,” Artiles said, “but [the ordinance] creates a giant loophole for criminals, sexual deviants and sexual predators to walk into a shower, a woman’s locker room under the cover of law.

“A man such as myself can walk into the bathroom at LA Fitness while women are taking showers, changing, and simply walk in there. Someone can say, ‘What are you doing there?’ Under the ordinance, I don’t have to respond. It’s subjective. If I feel like a woman that day, I can be allowed to be in that locker room. I don’t know about you, but I find that disturbing.”

Artiles' bill drew swift condemnation from LGBT advocates and Democratic lawmakers, the Herald reports:

The ACLU of Florida also weighed in:

“This ‘show your papers to pee’ bill denigrates both transgender and non-transgender people alike,” said Daniel Tilley, the group’s LGBT-rights staff attorney. “In addition to dehumanizing transgender people in particular, it invites humiliation and harassment of anyone who is not considered sufficiently feminine or masculine in the eyes of the beholder. Will girls in soccer uniforms be stopped at the bathroom door and asked to produce their birth certificates?” ... 

If you really want to know how badly Artiles' hateful bill is going over, check out his post about it on Facebook. The comment thread should be required reading for lawmakers who are considering similar legislation in other states — and also perhaps for officials who want to include transgender bathroom exemptions in nondiscrimination laws. 


11th Circuit Puts Same-Sex Marriage Cases in Alabama and Florida On Hold Until SCOTUS Rules

11thThe 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has put appeals to Alabama and Florida's same-sex marriage bans on hold until the Supreme Court hears and rules on the four cases it decided to take up from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that challenge whether a state has the right to ban same-sex marriage. This comes despite the 11th Circuit's decision yesterday not to extend the stay of a federal judge's decision striking down Alabama's marriage ban. From the court's order:

Pursuant to the Court’s direction, the appeals in case numbers 14-14061, 14-14066, 15-10295,and 15-10313 are held in abeyance pending the United States Supreme Court’s issuance of an opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder, 772 F.3d 388 (6th Cir. 2014), cert. granted, — S. Ct. —, Nos. 14-556, 14-562, 14-571, 14-574, 2015 WL 213650 (Jan. 16, 2015).Any other current or future appeals that are filed in this Court raising the same or similar issues as the appeals listed above will also be held in abeyance pending the Supreme Court’s issuance of an opinion in DeBoer v. Snyder.Within twenty-one (21) days of the date the Supreme Court issues its opinion in DeBoer v.Snyder, the parties are directed to notify this Court in writing what issues, if any, remain pending in these appeals.

14-14061 - 11th Circuit Marriage Appeals on Hold by Equality Case Files


Is Gay Sex Considered 'Intercourse'? Florida Supreme Court Will Decide

Florida-Supreme-Court-2014

The Florida Supreme Court will decide the definition of sexual intercourse as it applies to state law and whether that definition includes homosexual sex acts.

As Reuters reports, the court's involvement in the matter stems from a case in which a Key West man, Gary Debaun, was charged in 2011 with lying to a man about his HIV status before engaging in sexual activity. Debaun was acquitted of those charges by a county circuit judge because state law defines sexual intercourse as taking place between a man and a woman. Florida law requires HIV positive individuals to inform their partners of their status before engaging in sexual intercourse. The state has argued that the law was meant to apply to both heterosexual and homosexual sex.

From Reuters:

"The Florida Legislature and this court have always identified penile-vaginal union as 'sexual intercourse' and distinguished it from all other sexual contact," assistant public defender Brian Lee Ellison, representing Debaun, said in his brief to the high court.

"The plain meaning of the term is therefore clear and unambiguous," he added, stating that, according to Florida law sexual intercourse "does not refer to homosexual acts or oral sex."

Assistant Attorney General Joanne Diez wrote in her brief that "the lack of a definition of 'sexual intercourse' ... did not render the statute ambiguous or unclear."

After hearing arguments, the seven justices [on the state supreme court] usually take months to issue rulings.

The court has dealt with sexual definitions before, in 1971 striking down an 1868 statute that criminalized "the abominable and detestable crime against nature with either mankind or with beast" in the case of two gay man who faced up to 20 years in jail.


Florida Lawyer Planning Lawsuit Against County Clerk for Closing Wedding Chapel to Avoid Serving Gay Couples

Block

Earlier this month we reported on a number of Florida county clerks that had decided to discontinue all courthouse wedding ceremonies rather than open up the space to same-sex couples following the legalization of marriage equality in the Sunshine State.  

Now, a Duval County lawyer is planning on filing a lawsuit to reverse Duval Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell's decision to close the county's wedding chapel, saying Fussell (pictured below) circumvented the law and crossed the line by "discriminating against large numbers of Jacksonville’s citizens, including both same sex and heterosexual couples, as well as the poor and physically infirmed."

Wrote attorney Eric Block on his law blog:

I am going to challenge this decision. I believe that we will prevail because the Clerks’ actions around the State violate the spirit of the Federal Court Order legalizing same-sex marriages in Florida, but there are additional compelling reasons.

    • FussellWe spent millions of dollars ensuring that our Courthouse is compliant with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and people needing ADA accommodations now have nowhere to go.
    • We built our $350 million Courthouse with taxpayer dollars, including revenue from citizens who are gay, citizens requiring the assistance and provisions of the ADA, and most importantly, those who struggle financially.
    • This action of shutting down the Wedding Chapel ironically adversely affects more heterosexual couples than gay couples, simply because more heterosexual couples get married.  Therefore, ironically, the absurdity of our Clerk’s actions is to discriminate more profoundly against the very people that he actually is claiming to “protect.”
    • Additionally, there is a small fee for the use of the Wedding Chapel, and that fee helps to pay the salaries of Courthouse public employees including the very Clerk of the Court who shut down this stream of revenue!  The Clerk does not have the right to make such financial decisions on behalf of the City.

Most obviously, the Clerks’ actions violate the spirit of the Federal Court Order protecting same-sex marriages in the state of Florida.

We are in the process of obtaining Plaintiffs for our intended lawsuit against these Clerks. It is our intention to bring suit on behalf of not only same-sex couples, but heterosexual couples as well, as both are adversely affected by this clear homophobic reaction to the Federal Court Order.

Block, who as a young lawyer got married at the Duval County Courthouse, has also said he will perform wedding ceremonies for any couples (gay or straight) that were impacted by the chapel's closure for free. 


Gay Couple, Second to Marry in Florida, to Attend Tonight's State of the Union Address

Delmay

Newlyweds Todd and Jeff Delmay, who were the second couple to marry in Florida earier this month after Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay on her same-sex marriage ruling, will attend tonight's State of the Union address as guests of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Equality Florida reports.

The Delmays (above, with son Blake), who live in Hollywood, were one of six same-sex couples in the case which successfully challenged the state's gay marriage ban. They have been together for 14 years.

Said Wasserman Schulz: “It is my distinct honor to invite my constituents Todd and Jeff to join me for the President’s State of the Union address at the Capitol...Their bold efforts, along with Equality Florida and the other plaintiff couples, helped turn the page on the legal discrimination of the past and start a new chapter in Florida’s history. I’m looking forward to celebrating their marriage, and highlighting the ongoing effort to achieve equality for all, next week in Washington.”


Jon Stewart Skewers Florida For Fighting Same-Sex Marriage: VIDEO

Stewart

On last night's The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart took the state of Florida to task for the extreme measures it took this month to avoid granting same-sex couples the right to marry. Among the many absurdities involved in the larger unfolding of events pertaining to the arrival of marriage equality in Florida, Stewart highlighted the decision by some counties not to allow any couples to get married at courthouses, a move aimed at blocking same-sex couples from saying "I do" and upholding the so-called "religious liberty" of clerks who personally oppose marriage equality. The fodder is too perfect for Stewart to resist:

"Yes we don’t want to cause 'discriminations' against county court employees who don’t feel like following the law. These people didn’t choose to be county clerks. They were born that way."

Florida claiming to have the moral high-ground on any subject is a bit of joke. Stewart sums it up nicely: "Florida, you don’t get to judge others when your state motto is, 'If Darwin was right we wouldn’t be here.'”

Watch Stewart lampoon the "giant cockroach-choking, hazard-infested, Hooters-dining, reptile-abusing, Everglades-draining, election-ruining, stripper-motorboating, ball-sweat-scented, genitalia-shaped, 24-hour mugshot factory," AFTER THE JUMP...

(h/t Uproxx

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