The 2016 legislative session is shaping up to be critical for Florida’s LGBT community. With the 60-day session officially kicking off January 12th 2016, lawmakers are already filing bills that would have good and bad outcomes for our community. That’s why we need you to join us on the front lines in Tallahassee on January 25th and 26th for Equality Florida’s Annual Lobby Days!
Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of legislation we are already seeing this year:
- Florida Competitive Workforce Act (SB 120/HB 45 by Abruzzo & Raschein) - a bi-partisan proposed statewide law that bans LGBT discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. Even with all of the gains our community has made, we are still vulnerable to discrimination. The real and urgent need to protect Floridians from the devastating effects of anti-LGBT discrimination is a top priority Equality Florida.
- Domestic Partnerships (SB 1666/HB 1275 by Sobel & Jenne) creates a statewide domestic partnership registry offering a defined set of legal rights and protections to unmarried couples (both same-sex and opposite-sex) who participate. Rights and protections offered in the legislation include: advanced health care and end-of-life decisions; facility visitation; emergency notification; joint property, estate and inheritance; funeral and burial; and wrongful death.
- Banning Conversion Therapy for Minors (SB 258/HB 137 by Clemens & Richardson) which would prohibit therapists from administering dangerous “ex-gay” or “conversion” therapy to minors.
- Florida Healthy Adolescents Act (SB 1056/HB 859 by Bullard & Fullwood) would protect Florida’s teens by requiring that public schools that choose to teach about sexually transmitted infections, family planning or pregnancy provide comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive, medically-accurate and age-appropriate factual information, including information about abstinence.
- Relating to Parentage and Birth Certificates (SB 1542/HB 1151 by Soto & Richardson) updates Florida parentage laws to comply with the historic Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. This important legislation reaffirms the legal right of married same-sex parents to an accurate birth certificate listing both spouses as parents.
- Relating to Issuance of Marriage Licenses to Persons of the Same Sex (SB 512/HB 4019 by Soto & Williams) is a symbolic repeal of Florida’s law banning same-sex marriage recently declared unconstitutional by the Florida and United States Supreme Court.
- So called “Pastor Protection Act” (SB 110/HB 43 by Bean & Plakon) - Motivated by disapproval of same-sex relationships, this bill seeks to mislead the public and stoke unfounded fears that churches can be sued for choosing not to marry same-sex couples. Pastors and clergy have always had the right to decide who they will and won’t marry; that freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution and that’s the way it should be.
- Religious Refusal (HB 401 by Gonzalez) is sweeping anti-LGBT legislation that expands religious exemptions in several areas of Florida law. It allows for-profit companies, day-care centers, adoption agencies the right to refuse goods and services to LGBT Floridians, women, even interfaith and interracial couples. HB 401 allows hospitals, physicians, nurses, and pharmacists the right to refuse medical care or prescription drugs because of personal or religious objections. This religious refusal bill is intended to discriminate against and hurt others, not to protect religious freedom.
We need your help lobbying against this ugly anti-LGBT backlash and to lobby in support of pro-equality legislation that moves Florida in the right direction! To find out more about how you can help email [email protected].