In the last two weeks, Florida legislative committees have voted to: ban trans people from public bathrooms; release your private electronic data after you die; hide evidence from police body cameras from the public; allow adoption agencies to use their beliefs as a reason to keep kids from gay, single, mixed-faith or other families; and insert themselves between a woman seeking an abortion and her doctor.
Can civil rights and liberties get a break in this state?
You especially need to know about a new bill that allows adoption agencies to refuse to place children with families that do not agree with an agency’s religious or moral beliefs. The bill by Rep. Baxley would allow agencies that are contracted by the state to place children with families that are in the child’s best interest to refuse to work with gay families, single parents, divorcees, mixed-faith families or really anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their world view.
These agencies are paid with our tax dollars to serve our most vulnerable children and they should be using professional standards to make sure kids in their care end up with loving permanent families—not using their personal beliefs as a sword to keep children from the families they so desperately need.
While the sponsors say this bill is necessary to protect the rights of the agencies, they fail to recognize that these agencies have been hired by the government and stand in the government’s shoes. That means it is illegal for them to pick and choose who to work with on the basis of religion. If an adoption agency wants to push its religious agenda first, and a child’s best interest second, they simply cannot do it with our public dollars and in our name.
This bill passed the committee and we are closely watching what happens next. Our case in 2010 struck down a Florida law that banned adoption by gays and lesbians, and we will fight this back door attempt to roll back the clock.
Also, the bill that would require a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for women who are seeking an abortion must be stopped. It passed its first committee on Wednesday, and we are calling on supporters of women’s health to tell their legislators that the decisions about what is best for a Florida woman should be made by her and her doctor, not by politicians in Tallahassee.