Equality Florida today strongly condemned the Florida House Judiciary Committee for passing an adoption bill that allows discrimination against prospective LGBT parents, and places children seeking a permanent home at continued risk.
“This is Indiana-style legalized discrimination plain and simple,” said Carlos Guillermo Smith. “But it’s even worse, because this promotes state-sanctioned and taxpayer-funded discrimination. The legislators who voted for this bill know it’s as indefensible as it is unnecessary. That’s why they blocked an amendment that would have required businesses to state publicly, ‘we don’t serve your kind.’ ”
Florida already has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act that allows faith-based organizations to factor in their religious beliefs when offering adoption and other services. The new bill, however, would enshrine special discrimination rights into Florida law by allowing any private adoption agency — both secular and religious — to discriminate against prospective parents based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as on family status, and religious or political beliefs.
The bill strips prospective parents of legal recourse if they’ve been discriminated against, and prohibits the state from withholding taxpayer money from discriminatory agencies. One of the cruelest measures embedded in the bill would allow agencies to refuse to place foster children with members of their extended families based on their marital situation, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. A loving, unmarried grandparent, for example, or a stable, welcoming relative of a different faith could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.
The bill has also drawn national condemnation from the Human Rights Campaign Institute.
“This flies in the face of our responsibility to find permanent families and safe, loving homes for every child – including the more than 14,000 children currently in foster care in Florida,” said Ellen Kahn, director of HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth and Families Program. “I challenge these legislators to look into the eyes of these kids and tell them they’re going to have to wait years longer for a home because of this action.”
Equality Florida and HRC call on fair-minded legislators and residents to stop this blatantly discriminatory effort on behalf of the children of Florida.