I don’t find it fascinating in anyway that bills aimed at protecting discrimination are being introduced to my sunshine state of Florida. It’s “The Religious Freedom Bill.” Sounds nice enough, but in truth, it’s a sneaky misleading use of rhetoric (aka word choice). Essentially it offers businesses or other various service-providing institutions the right to discriminate against whoever the f*ck they want to based on not only religious beliefs, but general moral convictions. Please, someone define for me what constitutes as a “moral conviction.”
There was a time not long ago at all, when it was considered any business owner’s moral and legal right to discriminate according to skin color. This proposed “The Religious Freedom Bill” is no different from and just as horrifying as a bill that might be called “The Freedom to Be Racist Bill.”
However, according to Rep. Julio Gonzalez (the initiator of the bill), there’s no reason at all why I should make any connection to the Civil Rights movement. Zac Anderson for the Herald-Tribune explains:
The bill does not mention sexual orientation. Its wording is vague enough that it would allow businesses to reject any customer for religious or moral reasons. Asked if someone’s race could be cited as a reason to deny service under the legislation, Gonzalez said there already are federal protections to prevent discrimination based on race.
“The argument that there is to be some sort of defensible discrimination based on race is hollow, void and inapplicable, so I don’t think you can equate the two,” Gonzalez said.
“That just means the bill, one, conflicts with federal law and, two, is unconstitutional,” Smith [Carlos Guillermo Smith, a lobbyist for Florida’s largest gay rights group] said.
I should mention that actually finding a publication online of the actual bill itself was not easy. Articles ranting about the bill offered me no link to the bill, until finally I came across an NBC News-Pride article which provided a link to the bill itself, so that I could read the thing and make my own conclusions about it (without the lens of bias reporters). Here’s a piece of this bill for you, verbatim:
An act relating to the protection of religious 2 freedom; amending s. 761.02, F.S.; conforming 3 provisions to changes made by the act; creating s. 4 761.06, F.S.; providing definitions; providing 5 immunity from liability for a health care facility or 6 health care provider that refuses to administer, 7 recommend, or deliver medical treatments or procedures 8 that would be contrary to religious or moral 9 convictions or policies; providing immunity from 10 liability for a person, closely held organization, 11 religious institution, or business owned or operated 12 by a religious institution that refuses to produce, 13 create, or deliver custom products or services that 14 would be contrary to religious or moral convictions or 15 policies; providing immunity from liability for a 16 private child-placing agency that refuses to perform, 17 assist in, recommend, consent to, or participate in 18 the placement of a child that would be contrary to 19 religious or moral convictions or policies; providing an effective date.
The Bill helpfully goes on to explain itself. Here are more bits and pieces of this backwards bull… Oh excuse me. I meant bill, of course:
A health care facility or an ambulatory surgery center 65 licensed under chapter 395, a nursing home licensed under part 66 II of chapter 400, an assisted living facility or extended 67 congregate care facility licensed under part I of chapter 429, a 68 hospice licensed under part IV of chapter 400 that is owned or 69 operated by a religious institution, or a health care provider, 70 is not required to administer, recommend, or deliver a medical 71 treatment or procedure that would be contrary to the religious 72 or moral convictions or policies of the facility or health care 73 provider. The facility or health care provider is not liable for 74 such refusal, except when withholding the medical treatment or 75 procedure places the patient in imminent danger of loss of life 76 or serious bodily injury. Such refusal does not form the basis 77 for any disciplinary or other recriminatory action against the facility or health care provider.
Isn’t it lovely that a person could be turned away from not only a health care facility but also a freaking “ambulatory surgery center.” In other words, based on someone’s arbitrary moral convictions you could be turned away from receiving the less costly option of visiting an ambulatory surgery center (where you can receive surgery without an overnight stay– lowering treatment costs).
Journalists rightfully claim that this bill is a hammer to the rights of female and gay citizens. However, based on the language and explanations of this bill, literally any citizen can be turned away or told “no,” based on whatever religious or moral conviction exists in someone’s sociopath-ic mind.
Scattered throughout the internet right now, so called unbiased headlines regarding the bill highlight its infringement on the rights of women and gay citizens (very much true). I’m a woman, and as bleak as my future appears through the lens of this bill, I am aware that the bill impacts more than the typical targets of injustice (the poor, the gay, the female). What these journalists don’t understand (or perhaps they do) is that by highlighting “women and gays,” less citizens will take note of the bill, as the bill seemingly does not affect their rights. Here’s a reality check. This bill affects everyone (even rich people with amazing health insurance).
I’m so pleased to announce that three of my poems, “Slots,” “Scraping” and “Make a Decision” have been published in Barking Sycamores Literary Magazine Issue 13. Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project. Barking Sycamores Issue 13
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