Last week the Florida House of Representatives passed HB 7111 with a vote of 75 for passage and 38 against. This bill, as referenced in previous postings is a protective one designed to allow faith-based children's organizations such as the Florida Baptist Children's Homes to stand upon their convictions when determining with whom to place children.
While those opposed to the bill state that it is discriminatory, especially to same-sex couples and those in the LGBT communities, it actually is a statement about the viability of religious liberty and freedom to lead organizations based on personal convictions. The term "discrimination" has been attached to the bill and the debacle surrounding the Indiana religious freedom law has moved those in leadership and power positions to a very narrow place if they choose to stand for religious liberty while still leading and ensuring that personal rights are not forsaken.
As stated in previous postings, I am strongly in favor of the passage of this bill into law here in Florida and elsewhere.
Therefore, I share with you the latest update from the President of the Florida Baptist Children's Homes regarding this issue.
I wanted to give you an update on the conscience protection bill (HB 7111). The bill has been referred to the Florida Senate Rules Committee which will take place during the afternoon of Monday, April 20. We are thankful for another step! This week, we have been personally meeting with senators on the Senate Rules Committee and would ask that you also contact them directly before Monday to ask for their support of this critical legislation for children.
The members of the Senate Rules Committee are:
Chair: Senator David Simmons 850-487-5010 Simmons.David@FLSenate.gov Vice Chair: Senator Darren Soto 850-487-5014 Soto.Darren@FLSenate.gov Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto 850-487-5030 Benacquisto.Lizbeth@FLSenate.gov Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla 850-487-5040 Portilla.Miguel@FLSenate.gov Senator Don Gaetz 850-487-5001 Gaetz.Don@FLSenate.gov Senator Bill Galvano 850-487-5026 Galvano.Bill@FLSenate.gov Senator Audrey Gibson 850-487-5009 Gibson.Audrey@FLSenate.gov Senator Arthenia L. Joyner 850-487-5019 Joyner.Arthenia@FLSenate.gov Senator Jack Latvala 850-487-5020 Latvala.Jack@FLSenate.gov Senator Tom Lee 850-487-5024 Lee.Tom@FLSenate.gov Senator Bill Montford 850-487-5003 Montford.Bill@FLSenate.gov Senator Joe Negron 850-487-5032 Negron.Joe@FLSenate.gov Senator Garrett Richter 850-487-5023 Richter.Garrett@FLSenate.gov
As you contact these senators, here are two points to consider:
- Contrary to opposing views expressed by some, Florida's old Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) will not protect us. Without the conscience protection bill, we will face lengthy and costly litigation. We need every resource we have to be focused on the care of children, not legal battles.
- The same sex adoption bill (SB320/HB7013) passed in the Senate this week. The conscience protection bill (HB 7111) will allow us to continue to help children without violating our religious beliefs. The bill covers foster care, care for victims of child sex trafficking as well as adoption. FBCH helped 1,026 children in the care of Department of Children and Families (DCF) this past year.We ask that you pray at 1 p.m. on Monday for the Senate Rules Committee as they take up this bill. I will be testifying before the committee and would appreciate your prayers as I represent the children we serve.
As we pray for our leaders, Proverbs 21:1 comes to mind: The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
Together for Children,
Jerry T. Haag, Ph.D., CFP®
FLORIDA BAPTIST CHILDREN'S HOMES