News (USA)

GOP lawmaker says the state should be “erasing” the LGBTQ+ community

Florida state Rep. Randy Fine (R) Photo: WOFL screenshot

Florida state Rep. Randy Fine (R) said that he’s fine with “erasing” the entire LGBTQ+ community. He said this while defending his proposed drag ban for minors in a Wednesday legislative hearing.

His comments echo those of right-wing broadcaster Michael Knowles who recently called for “eliminating transgenderism.” His comments also follow state Rep. Webster Barnaby (R) recently calling trans people “imps,” “demons,” and “mutants.”

“The question is not why do I want to run this bill,” Fine said in the Wednesday hearing. “The question is, why are there people in this world so determined to push this on children? Because, if you weren’t doing that, this bill wouldn’t exist.”

Fine’s bill, H.B. 1423, would ban minors from seeing any “adult live” drag show that “appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest.” He has previously said that child-accessible drag events are “gateway propaganda” to “trick” children into identifying as trans and getting “mutilated,” even though genital surgeries aren’t performed on trans youth.

Opponents say his ban targets the LGBTQ+ community. In response to this accusation, Fine said during the hearing that not all gay and lesbian people want to “target children” by exposing them to drag.

“I find it stunning that in order to justify that community, you have to stand up and demand that children be exposed to this,” he said. “[Some LGBTQ+ people are] the ones that are saying this definition [of drag] applies to them. Well, if it means ‘erasing a community’ because you have to target children – then, damn right, we ought to do it!”

Fine’s bill says that letting kids see drag “constitutes an immediate, serious danger to the public health, safety, or welfare.” His bill would allow Florida government officials to revoke the operating license of any lodging or food service business that admits a child to an “adult live performance.”

An “adult live performance” is defined as any act “depicting or simulating nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, and lewd conduct or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts” in a way that “predominantly appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest;” is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community of what’s child-appropriate;” or is “without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value to the child.”

The terms in his bill are vague and subjective. He also said his bill would not forbid children from going to Hooters, a so-called “breastaurant” where scantily clad women serve food and alcohol, Florida’s Voice reported. Businesses that allow kids to see drag could be fined $5,000 and $10,000 for their first and subsequent offenses, respectively. A person who admits a minor into such a performance could also be charged with a third-degree felony.

Fine’s bill would codify state Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s (R) attacks on venues that host all-ages drag events. In February, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed a complaint against The Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation Inc. and threatened to revoke its license after alleging that the “Drag Queen Christmas” show that it hosted on December 28, 2022 included sexually explicit songs and dances. The accusation was notable considering that DeSantis’ own undercover agents who attended the performance reported “no lewd acts.”

A month ago, Fine wrote via Facebook, “The battle for our children begins today. I have just filed H.B. 1421 which bans the mutilation of children in the name of radical ‘transgender’ theory, bans Florida citizens from having to pay for these procedures for other non-minors, and gives those tricked into this fraud thirty years to sue those who did it to them. I have also filed H.B. 1423 which will protect our children by ending the gateway propaganda to this evil — ‘Drag Queen Story Time.’ I will relish the battle ahead.”

On Wednesday, Fine said on Facebook that the bill would ban the city of Melbourne from “‘welcoming’ drag queen adult entertainers from grooming our children” at its annual Space Coast Pride Festival and Parade in September.

At the Wednesday hearing, state Rep. Kristen Arrington (D) spoke against Fine’s drag ban, stating, “There’s no need for this bill, except for it being an attack on a specific community that we keep attacking again and again.” State Rep. Angie Nixon (D) said, “This is a disgusting bill and it’s designed to target parents like me. The LGBTQ community is here to stay, and you all need to deal with it.”

DeSantis, who is widely expected to run in the Republican presidential primary, has made anti-LGBTQ+ legislation a cornerstone of his administration.

Last year, the governor signed Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” law, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay (or Trans)” law, restricting instruction about LGBTQ+ topics in schools. In 2021, he approved a ban on transgender students participating in school sports and vetoed funding for LGBTQ+ mental health and homelessness programs. He has peddled misinformation about schools forcing kids to transition against their parents’ wills and has implied that child protective services should investigate parents who let their kids watch drag queens.

Fine wrote a bill to revoke Disney’s special tax district when the company publicly opposed the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

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