Florida state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said Tuesday he does not support a proposal allowing private agencies to deny adoptions by gay and lesbian couples on religious or moral grounds.
“It has many, many problems,” Gaetz, the former Senate president, told the Miami Herald. “It has constitutional problems, practical problems, and I would not support it. I’m not a lawyer. I’m relying on the general counsel’s opinion. I would not vote for House Bill 7111.”
The House on April 9 passed HB 7111. Chief sponsor Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, called it a religious “conscience” bill.
On Monday, the Florida Senate Rules Committee didn’t move forward with its companion bill. A vote was temporarily postponed and may be brought up again by the same committee, said state Rep. David Richardson, Florida’s first openly gay lawmaker.
Committee Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said Monday afternoon he would work with Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, to determine how to proceed.
“With the clock running out, it is very likely the end of the line for this bad bill,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of LGBT-rights group Equality Florida. “The bottom line is the bill is unconstitutional. It would have allowed state-funded discrimination and in doing so threatened hundreds of millions of federal dollars for foster care and adoption. It was written in way to allow a broad range of discrimination at taxpayer expense.”
On April 8, Gaetz urged fellow senators to officially repeal Florida’s 1977 gay adoption ban, which hasn’t been enforced since 2010 when several courts found it unconstitutional.