In an ugly symbolic move, the Florida House on Thursday approved an Indiana-style discrimination bill that gives taxpayer-funded adoption agencies a “license to discriminate” against gay and lesbian couples looking to adopt.
The 75-38 vote is symbolic because the Florida Senate overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal just the day before, under the bipartisan leadership of former Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Destin.
The Senate proposal came in the form of an amendment to a larger adoption bill that was already approved by House. The amendment’s failure means the House will not have another chance at the larger bill, which has one more vote in the Senate next Tuesday before being sent to the Governor.
The larger bill provides incentives to adoption agencies designed to improve foster children’s chance for permanent homes. It also removes a no-longer enforced 1977 prohibition on gay and lesbian couples that a state appellate court ruled unconstitutional in 2010.
“Thursday’s House vote sends an ugly message about Florida, whether it becomes law or not,” said Nadine Smith, chief executive of Equality Florida. “As other states such as Indiana have learned, discriminatory laws under the false guise of religious freedom are widely criticized. They are unfair and unjust, and they also hurt a state’s economy.
“Thankfully the Senate on Wednesday pulled us back from the brink of embarrassment that Indiana has recently faced. Now is not the time to turn back the clock to 1977. Instead, we must move forward to approve a state law that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.”