We're so happy to report that Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed the bill that includes a provision spearheaded by State Representative and SAVE ally David Richardson to strike discriminatory gay and lesbian adoption language from Florida's laws.
From a press release from the Representative's office:
REPRESENTATIVE DAVID RICHARDSON APPLAUDS FINAL END OF FLORIDA’s GAY-ADOPTION BAN
Representative David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, celebrates the full and final end of Florida’s ban on gay adoptions and commends Gov. Rick Scott for signing the House’s adoption legislation into law.
In April, Richardson filed an amendment to HB 7013, a bill to encourage adoption, that ultimately struck language from Florida law that prohibited gay Floridians from adopting children. The change to statute affirms an earlier court ruling and assures the policy will be followed statewide.
“This is a momentous day and an important advance for civil rights. It’s also great news for children who will be adopted into loving homes,” Richardson said. “I’m glad the governor did the right thing. An important part of this progress for social justice goes beyond the benefits to children. The largest, most successful and forward-thinking businesses in the nation want to recruit the best employees from the broadest population. They hesitate to locate in a state that discriminates against potential employees and makes them unwelcome. This is a big deal and a great day for Florida."
The legislation aims to increase adoption in the state, including incentive payments to adoption agencies and subsidies to state employees who adopt. Representative Richardson’s amendment sought to make sure the legislation is as effective as it can be.
Gov. Scott noted in a transmittal letter that the stricken language and the court’s earlier ruling mean state officials must assess potential adoptive parents according to the best interests of the child without regard to the sexual orientation of the parents.
“The best interest of children should always be foremost. It’s certainly in the best interest of the state to end discrimination and make sure the best adoptive parents are candidates,” Richardson said. “I am so proud of the work all of us in the Legislature were able to achieve together.”
Richardson was the first-elected openly gay member of the Florida Legislature when he was elected in August 2012.
“This is very personal for me. I recall the anti-gay campaigns of Anita Bryant that led to this discriminatory law. It’s a victory to be involved in repealing a law that caused so much heartache to me and so many others,” Richardson said.
SAVE congratulates the bipartisan coalition in the Florida House and Senate that worked so hard to pass this important legislation. We also commend Governor Scott for doing the right thing by signing this bill.
From State Representative David Richardson:
In a historic vote today, the Florida Senate approved an adoption bill I originally amended in the Florida House of Representatives to repeal the discriminatory gay adoption ban that was added to law thirty-eight years ago.
While the courts ruled this provision unconstitutional a few years ago, I have been told there was still some discrimination on this issue. The bill now goes to Governor Scott's desk for review, and I hope he will sign it quickly.
I want to thank the bipartisan coalition in the Florida House and Senate that voted to pass this important legislation. I want to give a special shout out to Senator Don Gaetz who was a champion for the adoption bill, including the amendment repealing the gay adoption ban.
Make no mistake, I would not have been able to accomplish this action with out the help of so many other representatives and senators. I too appreciate the help of SAVE and others in helping me win this historic change -- SAVE staffers and volunteer advocates met with key lawmakers to make the case for equality under Florida's adoption laws.
For the past two years, SAVE has honored me for my efforts at its annual Champions of Equality awards reception. Now, I'd like to return the favor by asking you to join me again this year on Friday, May 8 as SAVE honors three leading lights as its 2015 Champions of Equality. Buy your tickets here. >>
The work SAVE does to support pro-equality advocates like me is only made possible by grassroots supporters like you. By attending Champions of Equality, you can support both SAVE SAVE and our community leaders. I hope you will join me on May 8. Buy your tickets today. >>
Thank you for your continued support for advocates like me and organizations like SAVE.
State Representative David Richardson
Florida's 113th State House District