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

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

The 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 Sanford House Republican Jason Brodeur to produce a “conscience protection” bill that would have give 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 Thursday,  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 also happened Thursday, in Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed an 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 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 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, though, 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 …

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

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It’s Pride Night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

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

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

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was 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 and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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