State Rep. Julio Gonzalez filed his first bill of the 2016 legislative year on Wednesday, and it was a doozy: a proposal to give immunity to certain businesses who wish not to render certain services on grounds of “religious freedom,” including private child-placement agencies.
Specifically, the bill amends the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998 to read that an entity owned by a religious institution is “not required to produce, create, or deliver a custom product or service that would be contrary to the religious or moral convictions or policies” of the entity. Child-placing agencies are specifically enumerated.
A similar bill caused an uproar in the House last year when sponsor Rep. Jason Brodeur – who himself was adopted as a child – faced a fierce floor debate during the 2015 Legislative Session.
Gonzalez, a Venice Republican, cosponsored a controversial abortion bill that would have shuttered many clinics that administer the procedure.
2015’s HB 147 would have required physicians to have admitting privileges to a state-licensed hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, rendering abortions for many women in rural parts of Florida inaccessible.
Gonzalez joined hardline family values conservatives like state Reps. Dennis Baxley, Scott Plakon, and Charles Van Zant in that effort, which died in an early House committee.
Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, issued the following upon the introduction of Gonzalez’s bill, HB 401.
“HB 401 uses a thinly veiled guise of religion to justify denying services to people in need at hospitals, adoption agencies, and other important institutions that Floridians use every day,” said TcTighe.
“It’s cruel to deny any child the opportunity to be welcomed into a loving, supporting family, just because they or a parent might be gay or transgender. It’s wrong to refuse potentially life-saving medical care to a person who has been in an accident simply because they are LGBT. This bill goes too far and would make Florida a worse place for everyone.”
Full article here: http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/243305