ACLU in the House!...and Senate.

With the support of your activism, the ACLU of Florida defeated a number of bad bills this legislative session and amended others to minimize the damage to civil rights and liberties in our state. We thank you for exercising your rights and standing up for the constitution.  We logged over 15,000 legislative contacts this session, lobbied legislators and committees, and collected 10s of thousands of petition signatures.  Here’s what we were able to accomplish at the state capitol for the 2015 legislative session:

  • We defeated a mean-spirited “Potty Police” bill that would enforce gender segregation in public bathrooms. Targeted at trans individuals, the bill would have made it a crime to use a restroom designated for the gender not on your birth certificate or driver’s license.
  • We defeated a plainly unconstitutional amendment to Florida’s adoption code that would allow agencies to refuse to place children with families who violate their religious or moral beliefs. Motivated primarily by the desire to roll back the clock and deny gays the rights to adopt in Florida, it would have allowed state funded contractors to refuse to work with LGBT families, single mothers, divorcees and more.
  • We defeated a sweeping bill that would revoke your privacy rights after death, allowing your estate administrator to access and distribute information on your online accounts like Facebook, email, online photo services and more.
  • We secured significant amendments to body camera legislation that would have prevented the public from ever seeing video of police-public interactions, even in situations where there were allegations of abuse.

Our biggest loss this year came in the reproductive rights category, though.  Sitting on the Governor’s desk, waiting to be signed, is legislation that requires women to wait 24 hours to obtain an abortion, forcing them to make two trips to the doctor despite the hardships it may cause and despite how medically unnecessary it is. (If you haven’t yet, sign our petition to Gov. Rick Scott to Veto HB 633!)

As you may have heard, the legislature will reconvene in June to resolve the budget impasse and luckily the agenda does not include any more attacks on civil rights or liberties.  So we look now to the 2016 session, which was moved up to January and February of next year. Rumor has it that committee weeks may start as early as September.

So here’s to a successful session for civil rights and civil liberties – as far as Florida legislative sessions go anyway.  We are proud to have worked with our members and activists and are already thinking about where to go next year.