Grassroots LGBTQ group mounts online push to stop bills in Tallahassee
Florida's LGBTQ community has reservations about the 'free state' moniker. Image via AP.

SAVE sets up a platform routing legislation protest to individual lawmakers' inboxes.

At school, the doctor, the bathroom or live performances, the 2023 Session has introduced bills that LGBTQ advocates see as rolling back progress. So one organization has programmed a pushback into a few keyboard clicks.

South Florida-based Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE) is sending out a code red, asking 26,000 subscribers to its emailed newsletter to contact their lawmaker and make their displeasure with three particular bills known now.

“This is the worst Legislative Session I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said SAVE Executive Director Orlando Gonzales. “It feels like it’s one thing and then another and another — like we’re playing whack-a-mole.”

Those who put in a name and address on the platform SAVE is providing will be able to find both the Representative and the Senator representing their district. An email is routed to each lawmaker’s inbox. The sender can personalize the email, but SAVE has preloaded three Senate bills and their House companions in various stages of making their way to becoming law for protest.

“In just a few minutes, you can become part of our movement and urge our representatives to reject anti-LGBTQ legislation,” the call to action says.

The bills the email is preloaded to target are:

— The “Protections of Medical Conscience” bill (HB 1403 and SB 1580), which SAVE argues is actually a license for health providers and insurers to discriminate against and deny critical medical care to a patient on the basis of religious, moral or ethical beliefs. The Governor’s Office has argued the proposal is intended to protect the “religious views of all medical professionals,” and has the support of the Florida Medical Association.

— The “Protection of Children” bill (HB 1423 and SB 1438), also known as the “anti-drag show” legislation, criminalizes allowing children into drag show performances, threatening venues that host them with steep fines. SAVE’s prepared email says, “This bill injects the government into a parent’s right to determine what art and entertainment content is appropriate for their children. It is a threat to American freedom of speech and businesses.” The legislation’s backers say they want to protect children’s innocence.

— The “flags” bill (SB 668) and the comparable House legislation (HB 1011) “is an effort to censor free speech and restrict pro-LGBTQ supportive messages in public spaces, namely pride flags,” SAVE’s email argues.

Each of these bills and their companions are at various stages of becoming law.

The health care bill has been added to the second reading calendar in the House. The similar Senate companion has been added to the Senate Rules Committee hearing scheduled for this week.

The Senate has approved the drag show legislation. It’s going to the House’s special order calendar Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the legislation on flags has been postponed.

Gonzales said he’s under no illusion that the campaign will stop any of these bills in their tracks.

“We are well aware that we’re grossly outnumbered,” Gonzales said. “They need to know that we stand in direct opposition to what they are doing … and we are not fading into the background.”

The era of moderate, pro-LGBTQ Republican politicians is over, even though it was the norm five or 10 years ago, Gonzales said.

“This should be a nonpartisan issue,” Gonzales said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn