On June 27, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued an historic ruling for reproductive freedom, striking down parts of a restrictive Texas abortion law as unconstitutional. Just days later, a federal judge in Tallahassee blocked a similarly dangerous and restrictive Florida law that was set to take effect on July 1. This is a turning point for reproductive justice and equality in the Sunshine State - and across the nation!
The recent rulings exposed the lies behind extremist Tallahassee politicians' crusade to control women's bodies. In both Texas and Florida, the courts have made clear that the proposed restrictions had nothing to do with safety for women, as had been claimed, and everything to do with shutting down women's health care facilities that provide abortions.
The politicians seeking to limit access to safe and legal abortions are the same people who have been at the center of the anti-LGBTQ backlash this past year, introducing sweeping religious exemptions bills that would have allowed for-profit companies, day-care centers, and adoption agencies the right to refuse goods and services to LGBTQ Floridians, women, even interfaith and interracial couples.
As we move forward and look to the 2017 Legislative Session, we must ensure that our community and our allies understand that LGBTQ and abortion rights face a common enemy: Right wing extremists who insist their personal religious beliefs justify them in denying the rights of others.
In the statement below, read why Equality Florida has been a pro-choice organizations since our founding in 1997.
Causes in Common Statement
From our founding, Equality Florida has been a pro-choice organization and a proud member of Causes in Common, One of the goals of Causes in Common in demonstrating the linkages between the Reproductive Justice and LGBTQ Movements is to show that our missions are already inherently interconnected. As a pro-choice organization, Equality Florida recognizes that the term pro-choice is not limited to a position on abortion access, but encompasses a much broader advocacy of sexual life liberated from reproductive function. It includes the right to choose whether or not to have children as well as the right to a life free from governmental scrutiny and intrusion in our sexual and reproductive lives. Therefore, a pro-LGBTQ mission should imply a pro-choice mission and vice versa. The Equality Florida Action PAC requires candidates to be pro-choice.
What is the connection between reproductive justice and LGBTQ liberation?
• Historical connections
The common ground for our movements has a long and rich history even though we have often been strategically divided. Reproductive freedom was a lynchpin of the modern Feminist Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The advent and easier availability of more advanced reproductive technologies liberated women from unwanted pregnancy as a consequence of heterosexual sex. When women could take control of their reproductive destinies, they also had more control over their own sexual pleasure. The freedom and legitimacy of sexual activity without reproduction as an outcome is as fundamental to the liberation of LGBTQ people as it is to heterosexual women and their male partners.
• Legal underpinnings
Legal advocates are perhaps the most aware of the intersections between our movements, for they can clearly see the connections in the work they do fighting for LGBTQ liberation and/or Reproductive Justice every day. The decisions in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) held first that criminal prohibition of contraceptive devices for married couples, and later for any individual, violated a fundamental right of privacy. These cases helped lay the groundwork for an argument that the individual has a right to decide how and when to engage in consensual sexual activity. Furthermore, the fact that the 2003 Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas decision decriminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults relied upon two of the most influential reproductive rights cases—Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—emphasizes that attacks on either of our struggles can no longer be separated.
• Shared enemies
There is a right-wing political agenda that targets both reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights. It would control sexuality, gender conformity, reproductive choice and the legal definitions of family. Those behind this agenda seek to change the make-up of the Supreme Court to roll back the hard-won gains of both our movements.
• Policy intersections
Good policies have the benefit of moving our communities forward, while policies sponsored by right-wing extremists attacking reproductive justice and LGBTQ liberation have detrimental effects on all of us. Sex education programs that promote “abstinence until marriage” serve to deny young people information about “safer sex” and prevention of pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. They also further marginalize and alienate LGBTQ youth by deeming their sexuality pathological. Health insurance policies often refuse to cover contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion. Likewise, these policies often have restrictions on or lack of coverage for infertility services, especially services needed to create LGBTQ families. These are just a few of the many policy intersections that affect both our movements.
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