3.26.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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Tallahassee’s elected officials must be auditioning for an inappropriate episode of The Little Rascals. How else can we explain their recent behavior?

The episode in question is one where Spanky, played by Rep. Frank Artiles (R-Miami), cooks up a scheme to trap Alfalfa spying on Darla in a compromising position while she takes a whiz. Hilarity ensues as the “He-Man Woman Haters Club” is called out for its ridiculousness and immaturity.

It sounds like a scenario perfect for Saturday morning television—or a remake of a remake—but Artiles’ introduction of HB 583 is reality. And as we all know, reality in Florida is too often skewed to the insane.

What’s more concerning is a large, supporting cast of these Rascals in Tallahassee have approved the advancement of this bill, choosing to ignore the flood of opposition voiced at each and every meeting where it is discussed.

The men and women in our state capitol really need to pull their heads out of their collective asses. How can it be that in 2015, the biggest and most important crisis to tackle concern the rules around restroom usage, especially since it’s virtually unenforceable unless Florida funds an Association of Pee Bouncers to man ever restroom in the state? It’s even more absurd when one considers there are absolutely no incidents on record where a man wearing a dress has tried to sneak into a woman’s restroom just to sneak a peek at her private time while muttering “Giggity!” under his breath?

No wonder our state is a laughing stock—and every inch of blame should be placed directly onto Florida’s registered voters. We allowed this to happen. Because we are too lazy to mail in a ballot or to drive a couple of miles to fill out some papers and slap on an “I voted” sticker we are stuck with misguided leadership. Leaders who have lost focus of the real problems facing Florida and instead use the LGBT community as a distraction from their lack of real progress on, well, anything.

If that’s not enough, conservative leaders have decided to backtrack on the progress made in this state concerning gay adoption.

In 2010, then-Governor Charlie Crist decided the state would no longer enforce its 1977 law banning gays and lesbians from adopting children. While the law hasn’t been enforced for five years, it is still on the books. Now there is movement to finally strike it completely, which is great. But, of course, there is a caveat.

Republicans have quietly crafted a legislative amendment that would allow private agencies to deny adoptions based on religious or moral convictions. So, in other words, if an agency doesn’t like gay people, it doesn’t have to help with the adoption process.

Twelve Republicans voted for this amendment. Six Democrats voted against it.

Supporters of the amendment say that charities, like Catholic Charities of Boston, which refused to follow the law and essentially shuttered its doors, could face the same fate. Somehow, they see the closing of organizations that actively discriminate as a bad thing.

Florida is in turmoil—and ironically it is right as LGBT Pride season begins in our state. Manatee Pride was a success on March 21 and the return of Tampa Pride on March 28 is expected to mark a turning point in attitudes toward diversity in Hillsborough County. Soon, St. Pete Pride will bring back it’s night parade and this fall, Come Out With Pride returns to Orlando and Sarasota Pride will again take over J.D. Hamel Park.

In the first week of 2015, Florida gained marriage equality. And for many that means the need for Pride—and the need to continue the fight for equality—has faded.

But the attacks are still coming, and some of them are more forceful and more direct than ever before. Unfortunately this isn’t a comedic script written strictly for laughs and absurdity. It’s the world in which we still live.

So no matter what part of our LGBT community you identify, it’s obvious we have to change the script before it’s too late.

It’s Pride season, and while we celebrate who we are and enjoy our community, we can’t forget that our work is far from over.

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