Florida state legislators recently made amendments to Florida’s equality bills, including a religious side to the argument.
In House Bill 741, legislators made clear that religion was not excluded from any and all previously passed equality bills. They made clear that discrimination for any reason, now including religion, comes with consequences.
The bill is heavily centered around public schools – primary educational institutions and collegiate.
HB 741 is centered around decreasing anti-Semitism in Florida. While it has good intentions, many say this bill could be a serious threat to the Freedom of Speech on campuses.
Legislators predicted such conclusions may be drawn. At the end of the purposed bill is written, “Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment…”
What’s more, members of the Jewish community seem to be taken aback by this bill. They describe the legislation as an effort to silence criticism of the Israeli government. If the bill becomes law, it may be used to silence political activists, including Jews.
Legislators, again, predicted this outcry. The focus of HR 741 is to include religious prosecution as discrimination. Particularly, to allow anti-Semitism to hold the same weight as any other case of discrimination (whether race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or marital status).
The bill states, “criticism of Israel that is similar to criticism toward any other country may not be regarded as anti-Semitic.”
The National Coalition Against Censorship has written the governor to express their grave concern with House Bill 741.
The NCAC, while they are shocked by the recent acts of anti-Semitic violence and share the belief that more must be done to fight anti-Semitism, believe that H.B. 741 is unconstitutional. The NCAC say it is likely to face legal challenge due to the infringement on the First Amendment.
NCAC urges Governor DeSantis to encourage greater education about anti-Semitism and reject the unconstitutional quick fix offered by H.B. 741.
In a letter addressed to Governor DeSantis, NCAC and PEN authored, “NCAC’s mission is to promote freedom of thought, inquiry and expression and oppose censorship in all its forms. Our 57 participating organizations are national non-profits, including artistic, educational, religious, and labor groups. PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. Like other Americans, we have been shocked by the recent acts of anti-Semitic violence in our country and share the belief that more must be done to fight anti-Semitism. However, the approach taken by the authors of H.B. 741 is a serious threat to the free speech rights of Floridians.”
Public universities must abide by this bill, but the consequences are seemingly unclear as to whether it will disrupt Free Speech or not.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is currently considering the legislation.
Turning Point USA does not support nor condemn this legislation. Simply, TPUSA stands for Free Speech and all protections under the First Amendment. This article serves to inform.