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Press Release from Equality Florida - April 12, 2023

For Immediate Release: April 12, 2023

Media Contact:

Brandon Wolf ; Press Secretary

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Equality Florida Issues Advisory Warning For Travel

ST. PETERSBURG, FL -- Today, Equality Florida took the extraordinary step of issuing a travel advisory, warning of the risks posed to the health, safety, and freedom of those considering short or long term travel, or relocation to the state. The move comes in response to a wave of safety inquiries Equality Florida has received following the passage of laws that are hostile to the LGBTQ community, restrict access to reproductive health care, repeal gun safety laws, foment racial prejudice, and attack public education by banning books and censoring curriculum. The full travel advisory can be found here.

“As an organization that has spent decades working to improve Florida’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live work and visit, it is with great sadness that we must respond to those asking if it is safe to travel to Florida or remain in the state as the laws strip away basic rights and freedoms,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director. “While losing conferences, and top students who have written off Florida threatens lasting damage to our state, it is most heartbreaking to hear from parents who are selling their homes and moving because school censorship, book bans and health care restrictions have made their home state less safe for their children. We understand everyone must weigh the risks and decide what is best for their safety, but whether you stay away, leave or remain we ask that you join us in countering these relentless attacks. Help reimagine and build a Florida that is truly safe for and open to all, and where freedom is a reality, not a hollow campaign slogan.”

Governor Ron DeSantis, who has made the extremist policies the centerpiece of his presidential campaign strategy, has weaponized state agencies to silence critics and impose sanctions on large and small  companies that dissent with his culture war agenda or disagree with his attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Already, the adopted and proposed policies detailed in the travel advisory have led Florida parents to consider relocating, prospective students to cross Florida colleges and universities off their lists, events and conferences to cancel future gatherings, and the United States military to offer redeployment for service members whose families are now unsafe in the state. Businesses have spoken out against the governor’s abuse of state power to punish dissent, with Disney CEO Bob Iger calling DeSantis “anti-business and anti-Florida.” The worsening attacks, especially those targeting transgender youth, have also led to the proposal of policies around the country to provide refuge for those fleeing states like Florida. 

The Florida Immigrant Coalition, a statewide immigrant rights coalition of 65 member organizations and over 100 allies, also issued a travel advisory today, urging reconsideration of travel to Florida and providing critical information about where immigrant travelers can learn more about their constitutional rights. And just weeks ago, Florida chapters of the NAACP voted unanimously to request similar warnings to the Black community about the risk of traveling or relocating to the state.

Equality Florida's full travel advisory can be found 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.



1-18-2023: Update from Equality Florida


For Immediate Release: January 18, 2023

Media Contact:

Brandon Wolf, Press Secretary

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; 971.678.5707

Jon Harris Maurer; Public Policy Director

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; 954.494.1863

Florida State Board of Education Adopts New Rules Designed to Confuse & Intimidate Educators

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Today, the Florida State Board of Education voted to adopt two vague rules that threaten to remove the professional licenses of teachers if violated (proposed rule number 6A-10.081 and proposed rule number 6A-5.065). While designed to create confusion and chill efforts by educators to affirm their LGBTQ students, the rules do nothing to compel teachers to out those students against their will.

“It's clear that the DeSantis Administration continues to weaponize state agency rules with one goal in mind: sow fear and uncertainty around how best to care for and respect LGBTQ Floridians,” said Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida Public Policy Director. “In this case, the State Board of Education’s rules are designed to create confusion about how best to address the needs of LGBTQ youth. However, these rules do not require teachers to out students against their will and do not compel educators to be less inclusive or welcoming of all students. Florida school districts have followed comparable policies for years that have allowed LGBTQ youth to continue building relationships and sharing information about their identity with those they trust. LGBTQ students, like all students, deserve to be protected from harm and treated with respect. Education professionals are tasked with continuing to provide safe, affirming environments for all young people in their care.”

The newly adopted rules threaten the licenses of educators who fail to notify families if the services a student receives change or if they require additional monitoring of their wellbeing. However, the simple knowledge of a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity does not constitute a change in services, nor does it require additional monitoring. Similarly, a student’s LGBTQ identity doesn’t automatically raise concerns about their mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being. In that way, these rules do not compel teachers to take any new action when a student discloses information about their identity. 

These rules continue a series of politically motivated anti-LGBTQ attacks from the DeSantis Administration and state agencies over the past year. Emboldened by bigoted policies to censor LGBTQ people from classrooms and bar transgender young people from participating in sports with their classmates, the Governor and his appointees have weaponized agency rulemaking and enforcement processes to further discriminate against the community. The state’s Medicaid agency recently stripped transgender Floridians of coverage for gender affirming care and the Boards of Medicine and Osteopathy are proposing to ban that care for transgender youth. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation has been wielded as a weapon against LGBTQ-inclusive small businesses, targeting popular community gathering places that dare to host drag performances. And the Department of Education’s review of key provisions in the dangerous Don’t Say LGBTQ law is ongoing.


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.



The Respect for Marriage Act, late November 2022

The Respect for Marriage Act - a great bipartisan milestone! The bill, which passed just this week in the US Senate, now returns to the House for another vote before it proceeds to the President to be signed into law. The Act will provide protections to LGBTQ+ couples at the federal level, specifically to ensure that our marriages cannot be annulled should the US Supreme Court at some point in the future overturn the Obergefell v. Hodges decision of 2015 which provided national marriage equality.

Again, The Respect for Marriage Act is a great achievement! However, it is not a guarantee of ongoing marriage equality throughout the country. Individual states are poised to disallow LGBTQ+ couples to marry, should the Supreme Court overturn Obergefell v. Hodges. This would likely mean that in the future couples who reside in certain states might have to cross borders to legally marry... and it opens the door for individual states to find ways to limit state protections after the couple is married, even though federal protections will remain intact.

The Respect for Marriage Act also does not provide any further protections to guard against discrimination from particular wedding vendors.

So... there is still work to do on behalf of full equality for our community!! Celebrate this victory... and continue to keep yourself informed as future legislation is considered. And most of all, continue to stay active in the community and VOTE in all elections to do your part to forward EQUALITY for us all.

As always, if you have questions about the specifics of the law and how it applies to you and your committed relationship with your partner and/or your family, RainbowWeddingNetwork encourages you to seek out legal counsel from someone who is experienced with LGBTQ+ issues.

Respect for Marriage Act - November 16 2022

Nov. 16, 2022 - The United States Senate is set to vote on the federal Respect for Marriage Act today.  The federal law, which is expected to pass, would ensure marriage recognition between states should Obergefell be overturned at some point in the future by the conservative-leaning Federal Supreme Court.  The law would ensure that states not recognizing or barring same-sex marriages in a post-Obergefell world would be required to recognize legal marriages from other states, at least with regard to federal rights and responsibilities. It would not, however, have an impact on rights at the state level.  The law is designed to ensure some degree of protection in a worst-case scenario for marriage equality, while still on a firm states' rights standing to guard it from future legal challenges.  It is arguably the most important milestone for LGBTQ+ rights since the June 2015 Obergefell vs Hodges ruling. 

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