Marco Rubio And Five Members Of Congress Voted For Florida's 'Scarlet Letter' Adoption Bill

06/11/2015 06:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 11, 2015
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R) was among the Florida state legislators who voted for the so-called "Scarlet Letter" law in 2001 that required single mothers to publish their sexual histories in the newspaper in order to place their babies up for adoption.

Five U.S. congressmen -- Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R), Lois Frankel (D), Jeff Miller (R), Gus Bilirakis (R) and Dennis Ross (R) -- were state legislators at the time and voted for the controversial bill. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), Frederica Wilson (D), Daniel Webster (R) and Bill Posey (R), who were also state legislators back then, voted against it.

The law, which passed with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate, required unwed moms who wished to put their babies up for adoptions to post details about their recent sexual encounters in the newspaper in an attempt to contact the father, even if the woman was a victim of rape or incest. The purpose of the bill was to inform estranged biological fathers that their children were being adopted and give them the chance to intervene.

The "Scarlet Letter" law gained media attention this week after The Huffington Post reported that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) had advocated for the public shaming of unwed parents in his 1995 book. Bush allowed the controversial law to go into effect in 2001, but signed a repeal of it two years later after it was successfully challenged in court.

The fact that Rubio, a 2016 presidential candidate, supported the bill could inoculate Bush from criticism that he allowed it to go into effect if Bush decides to throw his hat in the ring.

The Gainesville Sun reported in 2002 that some lawmakers -- including Frankel, a longtime women's right activist -- did not realize the newspaper publication provision was in the bill when they voted for it. "I have to admit I'm horrified that I voted for this," Frankel told the Sun at the time.

Rubio and the other current members of Congress who supported the bill did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amanda Terkel contributed reporting.

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