May 24, 2017

Florida HB 7111 Faith Based Adoption Conscience/Religious Liberty Protection Bill

URGENT ACTION ALERT:

In order to protect the good  work of these agencies and probably to more political reasons, the House has passed HB 7111 with specific conscience protection/religious freedom language for faith based adoption agencies that is more protective than Florida’s current religious freedom statute.  Opponents of this bill, including Republican Don Gaetz are saying that current statute is adequate to protect these groups , but as shown in this legal memo , that is NOT the case.  That bill is in the Senate Rules Committee and may be up for a vote.   It is CRITICAL that this passes bill passes out of Rules so it can go to the Senate floor.  Both Catholic Charities and the Florida Baptist Children’s Home support this bill.

Call these State Senators who are members of the Senate Rules Committee and your own Senator and ask them to:

PLEASE VOTE YES on HB-7111 Conscience Protection for Faith-Based Adoption Agencies.

NOTE: This bill MUST pass through this committee, or it dies and will not be heard on the full FL Senate floor for a vote. Passing through this committee is the next step to passing this critical bill as a law to protect religious liberty.

Senator Don Gaetz (R) (850) 897-5747 Destin

Senator Bill Galvano (R) (850) 487-5026 Bradenton

Senator Jack Latvala (R) (850) 487-5020 Clearwater

Senator Garrett Richter (R) (850) 487-5023 Lehigh Acres

Senator David Simmons (R) (850) 487-5010 Altamonte Spgs

Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (R) (850) 487-5030 Fort Myers

Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R) (850) 487-5040 Miami

Senator Tom Lee (R) (850) 487-5024 Brandon

Senator Joe Negron (R) (850) 487-5032 Palm City

Senator Bill Montford (D) (850) 627-9100 Quincy

Senator Darren Soto (D) (850) 487-5014 Orlando

Senator Audrey Gibson (D) (850) 487-5009 Jacksonville

Senator Arthenia L. Joyner (D) (850) 487-5019 Tampa

TALKING POINTS:

  • Faith based adoption agencies have closed down because of legal attacks after same sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Washington DC.
  • This bill changes nothing, it simply just ensures that faith based child placement agencies will be able to continue serving children and families.
  • This bill does not discriminate against anyone. It actually prevents discrimination against Christian and Jewish groups in Florida that help children.
  • Existing laws protecting religious liberty are not strong enough to provide protection against legal attacks. Illinois had a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) similar to Florida’s and it was not strong enough to protect Catholic Charities from having to stop doing adoptions in that state.
  • This bill acts as a shield and not a sword. It protects religious liberties of adoption and foster care agencies and does not hurt anyone.

BACKGROUND: The House and Senate have passed an adoption bill which removes Florida’s long standing prohibition of placing children with homosexuals for adoption. The removal of this section of Florida law leaves faith based child placement agencies vulnerable to lawsuits by homosexual activists who will claim these church based agencies “discriminate” for preferring married mothers and fathers in adoption and foster care placements. Both Catholic Charities and the Florida Baptist Children Homes are strongly in favor of this bill. The passage of HB-7111 Conscience Protections for Faith Based Adoption Agencies is a critical bill to ensure First Amendment Religious Liberties.

Extensive Staff Committee Analysis for this bill can be viewed here.

SUMMARY ANALYSIS
Conscience protection laws prevent individuals and entities from being required to perform services that violate
their religious beliefs or moral convictions. These statutes have historically related to abortion, sterilization, and
contraception, but conscience protection legislation was recently enacted in relation to adoption services. Two
states have enacted legislation that permits private child-placing agencies to refuse to perform adoptions
services if a proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.
HB 7111 creates adoption services conscience protection within s. 409.175, F.S., to allow private child
-placing agencies and family foster homes affiliated with the agencies, to object to performing, assisting in,
recommending, consenting to, or participating in the placement of a child if a placement violates the agency’s
written religious or moral convictions or policies.
The bill also protects the licensure, grants, contracts, and ability to participate in government programs for
those agencies that object to performing adoption services required for the placement of a child or to facilitate
the licensure of a family foster home if that placement or licensure violates the agency’s written religious or
moral convictions or policies.  The bill does not have a fiscal impact on state or local government.
The bill provides an effective date of July 1, 2015.

 

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