SARASOTA, FL — Republican Party of Florida Chair and state Sen. Joe Gruters is one of two keynote speakers scheduled to appear at an anti-vaccine event, the Florida Freedom Rally, in Tallahassee Jan. 27 during committee week. The rally is set for one of the busiest days of committee week.
Gruters, who represents parts of Sarasota and Charlotte counties in District 23, will be joined on stage at the event by state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who represents District 32 in Lake County, just west of Orlando. The rally takes place at noon in the state capitol complex courtyard.
According to the event description, the goal of those organizing the rally is to “protect Florida as a free state in the face of COVID-19.”
Organizers call for support of “our individual freedom to choose between the vaccine and other prevention strategies and life-saving treatments, consistent with informed consent, which the American Medical Association states is fundamental in both ethics and law.”
The event website doesn’t indicate which organization is behind the rally.
Both Gruters and Sabatini have recently filed bills in support of anti-vaccine efforts.
Gruters’ bill SB364 prevents “discrimination on the basis of personal health information,” especially against those who choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccination that began rolling out in Florida at the end of December. His bill will also prohibit the creation of a state-issued vaccine identification card and keeps businesses, government entities and other services from requiring people to share their vaccine status.
“My fear is, you already see people showing vaccine cards,” he told Florida Politics. “I’m not anti-vaccine, I assure you. Go out and get it. But some people will choose not to be vaccinated, and they should not be discriminated against in public. I believe in the freedom to choose.”
Gruters also previously proposed a bill that would provide private school scholarships to families who oppose required mask mandates in the school districts where they live.
Meanwhile, Sabatini’s HB6003 strips the state’s power of mandating vaccines during a public health emergency, such as a pandemic.
When he filed the bill in November, Sabatini tweeted that he “just filed a bill to eliminate the state’s power to mandate and force vaccines upon citizens during a declared state of emergency. Government should not be able to forcibly vaccinate—it should always be an individual choice.”
On the event page, rally organizers encouraged attendees to meet with their legislators in support of the bills prior to the start of the rally Jan. 27.
Patch reached out to Gruters for a comment about this event and SB364.