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Thanks for checking out our Blog!  We're the team of RainbowWeddingNetwork (Marianne, Cindy & Ira) - Enjoy the posts, and always feel free to message us with any feedback through Facebook or email us directly. If you do reach out, be sure to request a copy of our latest e-newsletter! ...and remember to check your spam filter for any reply from us, if you don't see a response in your inbox.

We also invite you to like our FB group page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/LGBTQWeddings for more inspirations and connections to other couples and wedding vendors.

To learn more about who we are, visit the About Us page!

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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.

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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. 

Do you have concerns about how the current political climate may impact your marriage or marriage plans?
Join our discussion in our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/LGBTQWeddings.

Press Release from Equality Florida - October 19, 2022

 

For Immediate Release: October 19, 2022

Media Contact:

Brittany Link ; Communications Director

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

Joe Saunders; Senior Political Director

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 407-497-4986

Florida Board of Education Passes New Sweeping Anti-LGBTQ Rules

New rules target school districts that have LGBTQ-Inclusive policies, teachers, and transgender youth

ORLANDO, FL -- Today, the Board of Education voted unanimously on new rules designed to intimidate school districts and teachers that affirm LGBTQ students — including expanding the enforcement of HB 1557, the Don’t Say LGBTQ law. One rule passed today threatens teachers with termination of both their job and education certificate if they are found to have engaged in “classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity”. As passed, the discriminatory Don’t Say LGBTQ law allows conservative parents to sue school districts but is silent regarding individual educators. Proponents of the Don’t Say LGBTQ law failed to heed the objections of Equality Florida and other civil rights groups who shared deep concern with the law’s vague and undefined reference to “classroom instruction”. The rule passed today does nothing to clarify what families teachers can acknowledge, what supports can be provided to LGBTQ students, or what speech is exempt from this categorical ban even as it threatens teachers' jobs and licenses.

“The Board of Education’s move to target individual teachers' jobs and licenses is another cruel attack from an administration that has spent months punching down at Florida’s LGBTQ youth and families,” said Joe Saunders, Equality Florida Senior Political Director. “Qualified, effective teachers are fleeing the profession in Florida thanks to the constant politicization of their roles and discrediting of their characters by the DeSantis Administration. Rather than help to clarify the Don’t Say LGBTQ laws scope, the Board of Education has taken this bigoted law to yet another extreme, threatening teachers if they dare to acknowledge LGBTQ families in the classroom. This escalation in deference to the far right agenda of the governor makes our schools less inclusive -- and less safe.”

The rule also directly contradicts recent interpretations of the Don’t Say LGBTQ law’s scope offered in a ruling from federal judge Allen Winsor. In his September 29 ruling granting the state’s motion to dismiss a case challenging the Don’t Say LGBTQ law, Judge Winsor repeatedly pointed to the responsibility of school districts to determine what teachers may or may not teach, writing "The law is enforced against school districts—not individual teachers. Fla. Stat. § 1001.42(8)(c)7.b.(I)-(II). With or without the law, school districts direct teachers as to what they may and may not teach."Today’s rule further shifts the burden of interpreting the vague and sweeping law to teachers.

Another rule passed today targets school districts with policies that allow transgender students safe access to bathrooms and locker rooms. While not denying those facilities to transgender and nonbinary students, the new rule requires school districts notify parents in the district if they have a policy allowing bathrooms or locker rooms to be separated on a basis "other than biological sex at birth."

“The Board of Education’s facilities separation rule does not and cannot prevent transgender students from accessing facilities aligned with their gender identity — we know Federal law and the constitution protect these rights. Florida school districts have been following federal law for more than a decade, establishing policies we know will continue to work long after this politically-motivated proposed rule. What it does do is attempt to bully and intimidate districts that are providing these accommodations. Ron DeSantis’ war on transgender Floridians must end. All students deserve access to school facilities that are inclusive and safe,” added Saunders.

Nearly 100 pro-equality advocates attended the Board of Education meeting today in Orlando, and over 1,000 people sent messages to board members in support of teachers, families, and LGBTQ students.

These rules come in the wake of other attacks on LGBTQ students by the Department of Education. Last year, the department acquiesced to DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, scrubbing its website of anti-bullying resources aimed at improving the mental and physical health of LGBTQ students. Newly appointed Education Commission Manny Diaz, a former state senator who sponsored the Don’t Say LGBTQ law, wasted no time wielding the Department against LGBTQ students. In July he issued a memo instructing school districts to ignore Title IX nondiscrimination protections for transgender students, threatening costly penalties even though federal law and case law require accommodations for transgender youth.

The Board of Education is just one of a number of state agencies being weaponized against the LGBTQ community by Governor DeSantis and his administration. Florida’s Medicaid agency (the Agency for Health Care Administration) recently created a rule ending Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care in the state. The Board of Medicine is currently undergoing a similar rulemaking process that could threaten the licenses of health care professionals for providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth. And in July, the governor weaponized the Department of Business and Professional Regulation against an LGBTQ-owned small business in Miami, threatening to strip the restaurant of its liquor license after they hosted a drag performance at their weekly Sunday Brunch.

Despite these new attacks by the DeSantis Administration, LGBTQ-inclusive school district policies are still supported by federal protections that exist to provide safe, welcoming spaces for all students. The Biden Administration has issued guidance instructing schools to comply with Title IX protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, which is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. School districts must continue supporting LGBTQ students, creating safe, inclusive environments, and implementing the bigoted Don’t Say LGBTQ law as narrowly as possible to mitigate the harms it is inflicting on students and families.

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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.