Thursday, December 14, 2017

License-to-discriminate introduced in Florida House to nakedly advance a political career

Jay Fant
Jacksonville Rep. Jay Fant wants to be Florida's next attorney general.
His campaign has mystically transformed the state legislator
into a holier than thou defender of the faith.
There is nothing very original about Florida House Bill 871, cynically titled The Free Enterprise Protection Act. Its original author is someone at Alliance Defending Freedom (an anti-LGBT hate group). The text is modeled after the federal First Amendment Defense Act that never got out of committee. Introduced by Rep. Jay Fant (R-Jacksonville), HB 871 discriminates in the guise of religious freedom. It would nullify existing nondiscrimination laws affecting public accommodations, employment, housing, insurance and even medical care. It renders municipal nondiscrimination ordinances unenforceable. It is so broadly worded that virtually no business activity can be deemed discriminatory.

Rep. Fant has an interesting history. In 1947 Fant's grandfather founded First Guarantee Bank and Trust in Jacksonville. Fant started working at the bank in 1994 and became the third generation CEO and board chairman in 2003. Until then the bank was a little jewel among community banks. By 2004, the bank started to acquire substandard loans. By 2010 it was virtually insolvent and in 2012 the Florida Office of Financial Regulation shuttered the bank, selling off the seven branches and transferring deposits to another Florida bank. Nice job Jay!

Now Rep. Fant seeks to make civility and fairness insolvent. Fant is pandering for the support of the state's Christian supremacists including Hate Group Leader John Stemberger.

The incumbent, Pam Bondi, is term limited. Bondi has set a low bar. She was the recipient of what appears to have been a Trump bribe to drop an investigation into Trump University. Bondi did everything possible to deter marriage equality in Florida for as long as she could. That was far more important than preventing an unlicensed scam school from preying on Florida citizens. Bondi has been a reliable  anti-LGBT bigot throughout her tenure. Apparently Rep. Fant wants to succeed her as the office holder and to perpetuate her anti-LGBT agenda.

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