A Summary Response to the Memorandum Issued by the Office of the General Counsel to the Florida Senate Regarding Conscience Clause for Adoption Agencies and Why HB-7111 is Needed to Protect Florida’s Faith-Based Child Placement Agencies
On April 14, 2015, the Office of the General Counsel for the Florida Senate released a legal opinion in a memorandum regarding “Conscience Clause for adoption agencies.” (Hereinafter referred to as the “Opinion.”) In the opening paragraph of the Opinion, the primary conclusion of the 5 page document states: “I believe that religious organizations would be granted no significant legal protection by House Bill 7111 in light of the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act (FRFRA) and its interpreting case law.” There are a number of legal issues overlooked by the Opinion and therefore the following “Additional Comments” are being presented to members of the Florida Senate for their consideration:
Dear Florida Legislators, There appears to be a fair amount of misleading information regarding Florida’s long standing law prohibiting homosexual persons from adopting children and the legal consequences of striking that language from the statutes. Please consider the following seven legal facts, arguments, and perspectives on this very important aspect of Florida law.
The enactment of Indiana’s religious freedom restoration bill is not about religious bigotry, anti-homosexual bias, hatred, intolerance, or marginalizing anyone....This is about protecting the religious liberty of people of faith and families of faith across this country, that's what it's been for more than 20 years, and that's what it is now as the law in Indiana.
Analysis The Florida Adoption Act provides, in pertinent part, “No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.” Fla. Stat. § 63.042(3). In 1993, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal held the statute constitutional on both due process and equal protection grounds, under both the Florida Constitution and the United States Constitution. Florida Dep’t of Health & Rehabilitative Servs. v. Cox, 627 So. 2d 1210 (Fla. 2d DCA 1993). The Florida Supreme Court approved the decision on due process grounds, but remanded the case for the development of an evidentiary record as to equal protection. Cox v. Florida Dep't of Health & Rehabilitative Servs., 656 So. 2d 902 (Fla. 1995). No further proceedings occurred, however, leaving the Florida Supreme Court opinion undisturbed.
The political leadership of the LGBT movement wants to convince the world that the debate over conscience rights and religious freedom is a debate between those who hate gay people and those who don’t. In reality, its a debate between those who hate freedom and those who don’t.