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Florida Senate Committee Tables Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Adoption Bill

A bill that would allow private agencies to deny adoptions by gay couples on religious or moral grounds has been put on hold, the Miami Herald reports:

FloridaThe bill was temporarily postponed and may be brought up again by the same committee, said state Rep. David Richardson, Florida’s first openly gay lawmaker.

“However, this committee does not have any more meetings scheduled this Legislative session. It would have to be a special order of the Senate president to convene the committee and continue hearing the bill,” said Richardson, D-Miami Beach.

Committee Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said he would work with Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, to determine how to proceed.

The bill had been passed by the House in early April.

Said Equality Florida's Nadine Smith: “With the clock running out, it is very likely the end of the line for this bad bill. The bottom line is the bill is unconstitutional. It would have allowed state-funded discrimination and in doing so threatened hundreds of millions of federal dollars for foster care and adoption. It was written in way to allow a broad range of discrimination at taxpayer expense.”


Texas GOP Lawmaker Wants To Ensure Taxpayer-Funded Adoption Agencies Can Discriminate Against Gay Couples

Sanford

Rep. Scott Sanford (above) has introduced a measure — similar to a proposal in Florida — that would allow child welfare providers to discriminate based on "sincerely held religious beliefs." 

The Texas Observer reports: 

On Wednesday, Sanford told a House committee that in some states where same-sex marriage is legal, organizations such as Catholic Charities have shut down rather than comply with laws barring discrimination against gay couples.

“Faith-based organizations have played a vital role in serving our nation’s orphaned and needy children since America’s founding, and this legislation protects their operations,” Sanford said. “States without these protective measures have had organizations cease to operate, placing more demand on government.”

HB 3864, which Sanford is calling the “Hope for Orphans and Minors Expansion Act,” or HOME, would prohibit the state from taking “adverse action” against child welfare providers that receive taxpayer dollars and act based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” It would also protect the rights of state-funded agencies to provide religious education to children and to deny them access to abortions or birth control.

Opponents of the bill say it would also allow discrimination against LGBT youth in foster care. For example, a faith-based agency could force them into reparative therapy.  

Ken-paxton_2_jpg_131x197_crop_q100A representative from the office of Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) testified in support of the bill, saying that like bans on cell phone use while driving, nondiscrimination laws are an example of government overreach. One tea party lawmaker on the committee — Rep. Debbie Riddle — called the bill "fabulous" and repeatedly told supportive witnesses from Christian groups they were "doing the Lord's work." 

Meanwhile, in Florida, a similar proposal that died in the Senate last week has been resurrected and will be voted on Monday, according to Equality Florida.

The Human Rights Campaign and five leading national child welfare organizations issued a joint statement Thursday opposing the anti-LGBT adoption measures in Florida, Texas and other states. From HRC's release:  

Organizations that signed the statement, in addition to HRC Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, are the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Education Association. ... 

“We, as organizations dedicated to serving the best interests and well-being of children and youth, are deeply concerned about the spate of anti-LGBT bills that have been introduced in state legislatures around the country this year,” the statement says, “including measures that would allow discrimination in adoption and foster care, criminalize transgender people who attempt to use restrooms, and, under the guise of religious liberty, give service providers the power to deny child welfare services to the very people who need our care the most.”

Finally, in related news, a Texas Democrat delivered impassioned remarks on the House floor this week in support of a separate proposal to allow same-sex parents to have both names on the birth certificates of adopted children.

Watch state Rep. Rafael Anchia's speech, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Texas GOP Lawmaker Wants To Ensure Taxpayer-Funded Adoption Agencies Can Discriminate Against Gay Couples" »


Florida Legislature Votes to Strike Language Banning Gay Adoption from State Laws: VIDEO

Gaetz

The Florida Senate voted today to strike language banning gay adoption from its laws in an acknowledgement of the court ruling five years ago declaring the state's gay adoption ban unconstitutional, Equality Florida reports, via press release:

In a bipartisan vote, the Florida Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill designed to help more foster children find permanent homes. The bill also removes an outdated and unconstitutional ban on gays and lesbians adopting children.

Former Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Destin, spoke eloquently in urging his colleagues not to be swayed by objections that the measure might go against the religious principles of some private, taxpayer-supported adoption agencies.

Gaetz, a Lutheran, noted that his denomination placed 183 children in adoptive homes last year and did not discriminate against gay or lesbian parents. That’s “more than three times as many” as the Baptist and Catholic agencies that say they do not want to place children in gay or lesbian homes, he said.

“So I ask you today to follow the law. Follow the law that says we don’t discriminate. Follow the law that says we’re going to give these (children waiting for adoption) the best chance we can.”

 Watch Gaetz's speech arguing for removal of anti-gay adoption language, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Florida House voted to strike the language in March. The bill now goes to Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Continue reading "Florida Legislature Votes to Strike Language Banning Gay Adoption from State Laws: VIDEO" »


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.


Ireland Legislature Approves Adoption For Same Sex Couples

IrelandMembers of Ireland’s Senatorial body have greenlit the Children and Family Relationship Bill, legislation allowing gay couples to adopt children, in a 20-2 vote.

After nearly eight hours of discussion and over 120 individual amendments to the original text, the Irish Seanad Éireann concluded that same-sex couples should be allowed the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins will have to sign the bill allowing for gay adoptions into law before it goes into full effect.

The new law marks the latest of steps that the Irish legislature has made in the way advancing LGBT rights ahead of its upcoming referendum on same sex marriage.

Though public opinion polls predict that the Irish public is overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality in Ireland, governmental officials have cast a fair amount of doubt on the referendum’s outcome. In the months leading up to the vote incidences of violence against LGBT-identified people have increased despite the increased visibility of high-profile LGBT Irish figures.


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" »


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