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Mitch Perry Report for 6.12.15 — On this LGBT issue, Florida and Rick Scott resist social conservative pressures

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Thirty-eights years after Anita Bryant, Florida no longer officially bans gays from adopting children. Though it’s been legal for such couples to adopt since 2010, Governor Scott signed a bill into law last night that now makes that official. 

As you’ll recall, this issue roiled social conservatives in and outside of the Legislature this spring. The inclusion of the amendment by Miami Beach Democrat David Richardson to repeal the state statute on gay adoption (which was ruled unconstitutional by a court in 2010) led to Sanford House Republican Jason Brodeur to produce a “conscience protection” bill that would have given cover to private adoption agencies whose religious or moral convictions prevent them from placing children with gay parents. The bill would have protected the agencies from losing their licenses or state funding if they refused to facilitate adoptions on religious or moral grounds.

It passed in the House, but failed in the Senate. And yesterday, Gov. Rick Scott signed the larger adoption bill that included the repeal on gay adoption, despite intense pressure from those same social conservatives to veto the bill.

Now look at what happened yesterday in Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed the equivalent of the Brodeur bill. New legislation will allow faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan to refuse to serve prospective parents, like same-sex or unmarried couples, if doing so would violate the agencies’ religious beliefs. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the bill was passed after it was placed on the state Senate’s agenda at the last minute — and with no notice Wednesday — passed and quickly concurred in by the House of Representatives.

Critics in Michigan echo the same criticisms of the bill that we heard in Florida about Brodeur’s legislation. “The constitution doesn’t allow discrimination based on religion and you can’t do that with state funds,” ACLU of Michigan Attorney Brooke Tucker said. “We’re looking at our legal options and especially looking to hear from people who will be adversely affected by this.”

And in North Carolina, state lawmakers there passed a bill that allows state court officials to refuse to perform a marriage if they have a “sincerely held religious objection,” a measure aimed at curtailing same-sex unions. The bill was vetoed by Republican Gov. Pat McGrory, but the N.C. Legislature overrode that veto.

Gay rights activists in Florida have often said that the Sunshine State has been one of the meanest and most unfair when it comes to LGBT rights. At least in this case, however, they’re certainly feeling better about the leadership in this state than their brethren in those two other states, for whatever that’s worth.

In other news..

Thirty-eight years after Anita Bryant, Florida no longer officially bans gays from adopting children. Though it’s been legal for such couples to adopt since 2010, Governor Scott signed a bill into law last night that now makes that official. 

Hillsborough County’s half-cent sales transit tax plan over 30 years has now been released to the public.

It’s Pride Night at Tropicana Field in St. Pete tonight.

Victor Crist insists that despite a tough editorial from the Tampa Tribune, he and his colleagues truly do want to address the problem of wage-theft in the county, the second highest county in the state where such incidents have occurred.

And over 1,200 Democrats are expected to party tomorrow night in Hollywood — Florida that is, for the FDP’s annual Leadership Blue gala event.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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