Equality Florida Rallies Hundreds in Tallahassee Against New Slate of Attacks


Equality Florida Rallies Hundreds in Tallahassee Against New Slate of Attacks

Advocates Unveil Bills to Restore Rights and Freedoms Taken Under DeSantis

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Tallahassee, FL — In a show of unity and resistance, hundreds of Floridians rallied in the state Capitol Tuesday to condemn Governor Ron DeSantis and extremist legislators for their intensified attack on basic freedoms with an alarming slate of over 20 new anti-LGBTQ bills.

Sponsored by Equality Florida, Pride At the Capitol, comes a day after DeSantis’s huge defeat in Iowa, the latest rejection of his agenda of government censorship and control that has eroded constitutional rights, attacked the LGBTQ community, ignited racial division, dismantled public education, and denied Floridians access to medical care.

Two of the most egregious bills introduced, Don’t Say Gay or Trans at Work (HB 599/SB 1382) and the Trans Erasure Bill (HB 1233 & HB 1639), are fueled by a sinister belief that transgender people do not exist and that government should be weaponized to exclude them from public life. Instead of focusing on the real problems facing Floridians, lawmakers are continuing their obsession with culture war attacks in service to DeSantis’s failed agenda of division, censorship, and government control.

“Floridians are fed up with government intrusion into our private lives,” said Joe Saunders, Equality Florida Senior Political Director. “We’ve had enough of DeSantis and right-wing lawmakers forcing censorship and surveillance into every part of our lives. We will decide what medical care we and our families need, not politicians. We will not hand our schools over to fringe groups who refuse to protect every student and respect every family. We will resist the stripping away of our rights everywhere extremism threatens our freedom. It is time for state legislators to undo the harm and work for the good of our state, not for the Governor’s political ambitions.”

"Transgender people have always existed, and we have a right to live our lives free from the relentless harassment and demonization perpetuated by Governor DeSantis and his extremist allies for their cynical political purposes,” said Angelique Godwin, Equality Florida’s TransAction Special Events Coordinator. “Our community deserves equality under the law and the right to live authentically without being weaponized for divisive agendas. DeSantis's extremist rhetoric not only undermines our liberty but has also made Florida less safe. We are not pawns in a political game; we are people with the right to dignity, equality, and a life free from constant slander and discrimination.”

Pushing back against harmful laws supported by Governor DeSantis that chip away at parental rights and personal freedom in Florida, Equality Florida praised a suite of bills introduced by Democratic lawmakers focusing on health care access and education rights, two policy areas weaponized by DeSantis in his cynical culture war battle for political gain.

Senator Shevrin Jones and Representative Anna V. Eskamani filed the “Health Care Freedom Act” (Senate Bill 1404, House Bill 1283), and Senator Tracie Davis and Representative Michele Rayner filed the “Freedom to Learn Act” (Senate Bill 1414, House Bill 1355) to undo the many harms DeSantis inflicted upon Floridians.

“Extreme politicians have stripped away the personal freedoms and parental rights of Floridians while paying lip service to those fundamental liberties,” said Representative Eskamani. “The Health Care Freedom Act restores the fundamental rights and freedoms of Floridians to make their own personal and potentially life-saving healthcare decisions without political interference.”

The Health Care Freedom Act repeals Governor DeSantis’s 15-Week Abortion Ban (HB 5 (2022)) and 6-Week Abortion Ban (HB 300 (2023)), repealing numerous discriminatory restrictions on essential medical care for transgender minors and adults, and repeals provisions of the “License to Discriminate in Health Care” law (SB 1580 (2023)) that allows any health care provider or insurer to refuse any service based on personal “religious, moral, or ethical'' preferences. More on the Health Care Freedom Act.

Senator Jones added, “This is about protecting patients, providing them dignity and autonomy, and aligning our policies with the values of freedom. If the Senate wants to improve healthcare access, we need to remove discriminatory barriers to care and end political interference in Floridians’ personal medical decisions.”

Freedom to Learn Act sponsor Representative Rayner stated, “A single objector should not be able to overrule parents and ban books for every child. But Governor DeSantis has turned schools over to these book-banning extremists who censor and whitewash history and relentlessly attack LGBTQ people, students of color, and families who don’t look or think like them. We cannot stand by and allow our youth to be indoctrinated into ignorance. Real freedom is a Florida where every student is protected, and every family is respected.”

Following several recent years of political censorship in K-20 classrooms, the Freedom to Learn Act seeks to safeguard academic freedom and ensure our schools teach honest history while ensuring every student is protected and every family is respected. It repeals the Stop WOKE Act’s prohibition on discussing topics like systemic injustice or racism as well as harmful provisions of Florida’s “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law. The legislation also curbs book-banning abuses and adds LGBTQ history to public education requirements alongside Holocaust education, African American history education, and the study of women’s contributions to the United States. Furthermore, it would curb book-banning abuses and rein in Florida’s process for objecting to school materials. More on the Freedom To Learn Act.

View Equality Florida’s Full 2024 Legislative Slate here.

View the Full Press Conference here.


Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and lobbying, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.



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