On Thursday, Florida’s LGBTQ community was lighting up the internet accusing GOP state Senate candidate Jason Brodeur of releasing a “shockingly” “dishonest” ad campaign.
In the last nine minutes of the ad in question, Brodeur claims that he has “fought to let same-sex couples adopt,” and LGBTQ activists and legislators were visibly appalled.
“Jason Brodeur made clear he’d rather deny children forever homes than see them placed with loving gay and lesbian couples,” Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, said in a statement. “Now, with less than a month until Election Day, Brodeur is trying to rewrite history.”
Equality Florida said it has made it its mission to disprove Brodeur’s claims. They responded with an announcement to spend an unprecedented $125,000 to launch their own counter-campaign against the former state representative.
“Sorry @jasonbrodeur,” a tweet by Equality Florida said. “You led the fight against LGBTQ parents. You sponsored the bill that would have allowed discrimination. You don’t get to reinvent that record now.”
Equality Florida is referencing Brodeur’s chief sponsorship of House Bill 7111 in 2015, aimed at protecting private child-adoption agencies by prohibiting any action against them if they refused placement of a child in a home that would violate their religious convictions. Meaning that, if a private adoption agency is against same-sex couples adopting children, under this bill, they would have been allowed to discriminate against them freely without legal or civil repercussions.
The bill didn’t pass, but Brodeur did at the time fight for it, under the claim that “homosexuals” are not a protected class under the Constitution, but religious groups are. All the same, Brodeur, who was himself adopted, insists that the bill would have expanded adoption rights across the board.
“The many agencies across our state that were already working with same-sex adoptive parents would have kept on doing so,” Brodeur said. “HB 7111 would have only served to increase the number of agencies placing children. That, in the end, was my goal.”
Joe Saunders, senior political director of Equality Florida, refutes this. He said in a statement that Brodeur sponsored and then led the fight for a bill that allowed tax-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against gay and lesbian families, thus, would have reinstated Florida’s ban on adoption by gay parents, and denied homes to thousands of children.
“His bill was so extreme, fellow Republicans like Senate President Don Gaetz rejected it,” Saunders said in his statement. “It was cruel and bigoted, and we refuse to let him reinvent his record.”
Indeed, in 2015, Florida state Sen. Don Gaetz refused to sign HB 7111 citing its “many, many” “constitutional problems.” He then urged fellow senators to vote instead for House Bill 7013, which would officially repeal Florida’s gay adoption ban not enforced since 2010.
For context, in 2010, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal upheld a ruling effectively nullifying the 1977 anti-gay adoption statute, making Florida the last of all 50 states to take this step. Though never enforced since, the antiquated discriminatory language was not actually removed from Florida law until 2015, when Gov. Rick Scott made the symbolic gesture of repealing it when he signed HB 7013.
In 2015, Brodeur co-sponsored HB 7013. He points to his support for that bill as an indication of his career efforts to expand adoption rights to everyone, including the LGBTQ community – even though the law was changed by courts five years prior and was not being used.
“I was adopted, so I have a special connection to this issue,” Brodeur said. “I wanted [the children] to find a forever home, just like I did. And that means helping as many as possible to find loving homes whether they were same sex or Catholic or Jewish, if they met the requirements.”
A look into the representative’s political history, however, shows that his support for that symbolic bill may just be the entirety of his pro-LGBTQ rights efforts.
Brodeur served in the state House of Representatives from 2010-2018, until forced out by term limits. He rode the bench in the state Medicaid Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee for a couple of years and is now on the ballot in November for a state Senate seat, running against Democrat Patricia Sigman, an attorney in labor and employment law.
Equality Florida says it plans to remind 130,000 voters in Florida Senate District 9 of Jason Brodeur’s anti-LGBTQ record before the election.
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