BREAKING: Gov. DeSantis Signs Extreme “License to Discriminate” Healthcare Bill

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In response, HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow released the following statement:

“Religious beliefs are fundamental rights in our country. These core values have shaped our nation and strengthened our union. Unfortunately, bills like SB 1580 distort our foundational freedoms into tools to limit the rights of others, including the LGBTQ+ community and other vulnerable people. Personal beliefs should not be wielded as a sword to deny critical medical care. The Human Rights Campaign strongly condemns Gov. DeSantis for signing this dangerous bill.”

Last month, the President of HRC Kelley Robinson held a roundtable discussion with Equality Florida – the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ+ community – teachers, parents, and students to slam Gov. DeSantis and Florida legislators for advancing a slate of hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills and proposals. HRC also deployed mobile billboards at the State Capitol, the Governor’s mansion, the Pride Festival in Tallahassee, and South Beach and took out a full page ad in the Miami Herald slamming DeSantis for his attacks on the LGBTQ+ community.

Acting at the behest of the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine also adopted a politically motivated and discriminatory rule that denies age-appropriate gender-affirming care to Florida’s transgender youth. The rule (64B8-9.019) was filed with the Florida Department of State on February 24, 2023 and became effective on March 16, 2023. HRC is one of several organizations representing Florida families challenging the state’s ban on medically necessary healthcare for their transgender children and filed a motion asking the court to halt the ban while their case proceeds. Parents told the federal district court in their motion for a preliminary injunction that the ban is causing their children significant harm through canceled doctors appointments and denials of treatment.

So far in 2023, HRC is opposing more than 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been introduced in statehouses across the country. More than 220 of those bills would specifically restrict the rights of transgender people, the highest number of bills targeting transgender people in a single year to date. This year, HRC is tracking:

  • More than 125 gender-affirming care bans — bills that would prevent transgender youth from being able to access age-appropriate, medically-necessary, best-practice health care; this year, 14 have already become law in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, and Oklahoma;

  • More than 30 anti-transgender bathroom bills filed;

  • More than 100 anti-LGBTQ+ curriculum censorship bills, and;

  • 45 anti-LGBTQ+ drag performance ban bills.

Americans believe the amount of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is excessive, agreeing it is “political theater.” Likely voters across all political parties look at GOP efforts to flood state legislatures with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation as political theater. Recent polling indicates that 64% of all likely voters, including 72% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans think that there is “too much legislation” aimed at “limiting the rights of transgender and gay people in America” (Data For Progress survey of 1,220 likely voters, 3/24-26, 2023).

By comparison, last year in 2022 politicians in statehouses across the country introduced 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, 29 of which were enacted into law. These efforts — the result of a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes seeking to slander, malign, and stigmatize LGBTQ+ people — only yielded a less than 10% success rate, as more than 90% of anti-LGBTQ+ bills were defeated. The majority of the discriminatory bills – 149 bills – targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children. By the end of the 2022 state legislative season, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children were enacted into law.

More than 300 major U.S. corporations have stood up and spoken out to oppose anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being proposed in states across the country. Major employers in tech, manufacturing, hospitality, health care, retail, and other sectors are joining with a unified voice to say discrimination is bad for business and to call on lawmakers to abandon these efforts. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.

According to the latest data this year from PRRI, support for LGBTQ+ rights is on the rise in Florida and nationwide: 80% of Florida residents support nondiscrimination protections, and 66% of Florida residents oppose refusal of service on religious grounds. About eight in ten Americans (80%) favor laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This reflects a dramatic increase in the proportion of Americans who support nondiscrimination protections since 2015, when it was 71%.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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