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Florida Kills Antigay 'License to Discriminate' in Adoptions

Florida Kills Antigay 'License to Discriminate' in Adoptions


The state Senate turned back an effort to write discriminatory language into adoption law.

The Florida Senate today quashed an attempt to reinstate a ban on adoptions by gay and lesbians, just as the state House of Representatives appeared poised to pass a bill that would allow private adoption agencies, even those with state contracts, to discriminate against prospective parents who offend their religious beliefs, such as LGBT individuals or same-sex couples.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel had tried to reinstate the 1977 ban, already struck down by a federal court and therefore unenforceable, through an amendment to a bill designed to formally repeal the ban and offer public employees incentives to adopt. But in what LGBT rights group Equality Florida called "a stunning turnaround," one of her fellow Republicans helped block Stargel's discriminatory amendment.

"We don't need to turn back the social clock in this state to 1977," said Sen. Don Gaetz, according to Equality Florida. The repeal measure now awaits a third reading in the Senate, having already passed the House. The1977 law is a vestige of entertainer Anita Bryant's antigay activism in the state

"We applaud Senator Gaetz for rallying his colleagues to stop this disastrous effort to put discrimination back into Florida law." said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, in a press release. "Now is not the time for Florida to look back to its ugly past. It is time to secure full equality and chart a fair and inclusive path for our state."

Meanwhile, the House today rejected amendments to its religious exemption bill bill that would have required placements to be based on the best interests of the child and would have banned discrimination based on race, religion, or sexual orientation. As it stands now, the measure "authorizes state-contracted child placement agencies to deny children in state custody foster or adoption placements based on the moral or religious beliefs of the agencies," notes a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union's Florida affiliate. The House is scheduled to vote on the overall bill tomorrow, but it now appears to have no hope in the Senate.

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