Posed by model
Posed by model (Photo: Shutterstock)

Florida has thrown LGBTQ+ people under the bus again… and this time they’d better not be hoping for hospital treatment for their injuries.

Yesterday evening the state’s House approved SB 1580/HB 1403. The Senate approved the legislation last week. It allows healthcare providers and insurers the right to refuse patients in line with their conscience. It’s officially called the “Protections of Medical Conscience” Act.

The legislation includes clarification stating healthcare providers cannot turn anyone away based on their “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Notice what’s missing from that list?

Yes, there’s nothing about sexual orientation or gender identity. Democratic lawmakers pushed for amendments to include LGBTQ+ protections but they were all rejected in the Republican-majority House and Senate.

During a heated debate on the issue, Democrat Anna Eskamani offered up potential ramifications.

“A nurse could refuse to provide a doctor’s prescription for fertility drugs to a single woman or someone who identifies as a lesbian,” she said. “Nursing homes could refuse to provide elderly, transgender residents for their ongoing hormone treatment.”

“The very intent of this bill is to discriminate”

Fellow Democrat Michele Rayner-Goolsby, who is married to a woman, compared it to Jim Crow laws.

“The sponsor of the bill purports that this bill doesn’t discriminate,” she said. “But listen, y’all. I am old enough, I am Black enough, and I am queer enough, and I’m woman enough to know that the impact of this bill — and I would argue the very intent of this bill is to discriminate against folks.”

The bill passed the Senate on Friday on a 28-11 vote. It passed last night in the House 84-34 vote. It now heads to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk for signing.

The legislation was sponsored in the House by GOP Rep. Dr. Joel Rudman. On his Twitter bio, he describes himself as a “patriotic doctor” who “follows three documents – the Bible, the Constitution, and the Hippocratic Oath.”

In an earlier committee meeting discussing the bill, Rudman claimed, “There’s nothing in this bill that legalizes discrimination.” He has also said the bill is his “entire reason for being here in the Florida Legislature.”

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