We gather this evening to remember our beloved Florida. Florida had the potential to be a great state, to show the way toward justice for minorities… and be a leader in environmental stewardship. Instead, we must once again bear witness to the death of her dreams of better days in the face of a state legislature that lacks the ability to lead.
She had a good life, once upon a time. But the sunshine is fading behind the failures to hear critical legislation:
Her legislature failed to act on behalf of children in foster care. House Bill 413 and Senate Bill 500 would have removed the ban that prevents gay and lesbian people from adopting these kids and providing them with permanent and loving homes. Instead, the legislature prefers to use Florida’s financial resources to maintain an overstretched foster care system. Senator Ronda Storms calls gay and lesbian families “at risk”. But truly what remains at-risk is the future of Florida when her children can not be placed in a permanent home.
They failed to review the effectiveness of sex education in Florida… preferring to leave our children believing falsehoods such as Mountain Dew can prevent pregnancy… and not teaching them the facts on safe sex practices. And don’t even bother mentioning same-sex attraction! Such a narrow approach only leaves children in the dark… instead of being enlightened about the facts and choices they face.
Florida’s legislature could find no time to debate a bill to expand her civil rights law to cover those oppressed for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet, there was time wasted on yet more license plates… and how to make it harder for people to vote in our democracy.
And Florida Forever… designed to save her delicate environment which is the very life-blood of all life in her… is asterisked for oblivion… and asphalt!
Once again, those proPHets—with a PH—for progress and hope are ignored in favor of the profits with an “F”. And Florida is lowered into the grave of greed… to be signed… sealed… and paved over forever.
Dear friends, the cost of such short-sightedness of Florida’s future is too great! Our children need homes, our seniors need adequate staffing in assisted living facilities, and our environment can not be despoiled by development… and fossil fuels.
We have heard it was “all about the budget” this year, but there are economic costs to social and environmental injustice. Companies… who could hire a large number of our unemployed and skilled laborers… will not locate to a state that shows such lack of vision on LGBT rights. Why move a company here when they could locate to the northeast… or Iowa? And what are we really doing to create “Green Jobs” when an army of lobbyists are dispatched to push for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and refuse to say who is really footing the bill?
And Florida, your legislature was not even able to accomplish its supposed “chief priority” on time… resulting in a glaring Incomplete on the 60th day. I ask, “Who are the lard bricks now?”
Where are the leaders? Where is our future? How many times must we bury Florida? Who will resurrect our state?
The word Florida comes from the Spanish language, meaning feast of flowers. We must be very clear. In order to have flowers there must be seeds, the seeds of progressive work, the desire to unite, a sustainable budget for future leaders to maintain, and a desire to pollinate the minds of rising seedlings everyday. Our soil must be healthy, not poisoned by the tilling of hands drenched in interests other than that of the people whom this legislature serves. Frederick Douglas said “if there is no struggle, there is no progress”. Grassroots organizations have been struggling for long enough in our state. The overwhelming swell of support is not for progressive issues; but for the right issues.
As we lay our legislators forgotten progressive promises into the ground this day, know that tomorrow brings a new horizon, new issues, and new support. The needs of tomorrow must not be inundated by the stagnation of today; and they won’t. We will be here in the days to come, we will not blow gently into the unchanging winds of inefficiency, and we will not be washed away by the flash floods of reckless government.
The tide is rising. The sweeping change that is set rise from the depths of our collective interests will deliver unto the shores of this great state the true will of the people. As we give this session to the earth we know it is forever a part of our nature, the nature of progressive change. We are here as the Shepards of that change.