Florida's about to pass the first bill restricting LGBTQ rights in over 2 decades

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Florida is about to enact its first anti-LGBTQ law since its Defense of Marriage Act in 1997.

Florida is on the verge of enacting its first anti-LGBTQ law since the 1990s.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Fox News' "Ingraham Angle" on Thursday that he will sign a transgender sports ban into law after the Legislature passed it on Wednesday night.

"Oh, yeah, we're going to protect our girls," is how DeSantis put it.

LGBTQ groups say that the last anti-LGBTQ legislation to pass in the state was the Defense of Marriage Act in 1997, which prohibited the recognition of same-sex couples' marriages, regardless of whether they were married in states without marriage bans.

Congress passed the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which did not allow the federal government to recognize same-sex couples' marriages.

It appeared that the efforts to ban transgender girls from playing on girls' sports teams were dead after the state Senate postponed a hearing on the legislation on April 22.

But Republican lawmakers managed to revive their efforts to keep transgender girls off of the sports team of their gender by putting the measure in a larger education bill, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

This bill did not include elementary school students and took out part of the policy that allowed for inspection of young people's bodies, the Times reported. Instead, students would have to supply their birth certificate, reported WESH, an NBC affiliate serving Orlando.

Jon Harris Maurer, public policy director for LGBTQ rights organization Equality Florida, stated on April 14, before it appeared that the bill had been shelved, "If this bill passes, it would be the first anti-LGBTQ bill to pass the Florida legislature in 23 years and could send shockwaves through an economic recovery dependent on conventions, events, sports, and tourism."

Maurer added that the bill was part of a "nationally coordinated attack fueled by far-right anti-LGBTQ organizations."

West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama governors have all signed these bills into law this year. South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem issued executive orders on it in March. Montana could be the next state to enact such a ban, as a bill prohibiting transgender girls and women from playing sports on the team of their gender is sitting on Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte's desk.

On Thursday, the Human Rights Campaign released a statement in response to the Florida Legislature's passage of the bill. The organization said legislators are inventing a problem that does not exist.

Wyatt Ronan of the Human Rights Campaign stated:

Let's be clear here: transgender children exist and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Legislators across the country have neglected to name any examples of the sky falling based on transgender athletes' participation in youth sports. That is because those examples simply don't exist, and athletic organizations have welcomed transgender athletes' participation for years without incident.

North Carolina abandoned a transgender sports ban after it became clear to lawmakers that there weren't actual examples of a problem with transgender girls competing in sports.

Most legislators who introduced bills in more than 20 states couldn't cite a single example in their own state where transgender athletes had caused problems in girls and women's sports, according to an Associated Press analysis published in March.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.