2015- 2016 Legislative Recap Secular Coalition for Florida

2015- 2016 Legislative Recap Secular Coalition for Florida

The Secular Coalition for Florida opposed

Anti-Choice Bills: Four bills in this category were filed, all with the purpose of limiting women’s access to abortion care. Three of these died in committee. The fourth, HB 1411, was passed and signed into law by the Governor. This bill will cause the closing of the majority of abortion clinics in the state and in effect defund all of Planned Parenthood’s services. Since the Governor has signed this bill into law, the only course of action left is a challenge in the courts.

HB 43, the “Pastor Protection Act” was passed in a much less virulent form than the original text. The final version was just a reiteration of existing federal law that allows religious organizations and their employees to deny services if doing so conflicts with their beliefs.

HB 401, a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” bill would have allowed a religious person or organization to freely discriminate against virtually anyone based on their religious beliefs. Since a Senate version was not filed, the bill died in the House.

HB 1403, the “Pledge of Allegiance” bill which would have removed the current requirement to post a notice in schools that students may not be forced to stand or recite the Pledge was allowed to die in committee. Similar language, however, was inserted into a “Train” education bill (HB 7029) at the last minute. This bill passed but has not as yet been signed by the Governor.

Bills the Secular Coalition for Florida supported

HB 137, “Anti Conversion Therapy,” would have banned the use of so-called “conversion therapy” to LGBTQ children under the age of 18. This pseudo-scientific form of brainwashing assumes that such children are mentally ill and has been discredited by leading psychiatric organizations. The Secular Coalition for Florida sent 117 letters to Florida lawmakers in support of the bill. Unfortunately, it died in committee.

Other bills the Secular Coalition for Florida tracked this session

HB 45, a bill to provide anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community in Florida, was hampered by religious exemptions and died in committee.

HB 4019, “Same Sex Marriage Licensing”, which would have established a single, universal form for marriage licenses for all legal marriage combinations, died in committee.

HCR 8001, which would have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, died in committee.