DeSantis’ Top Priorities for a Second Term: Abortion, LGBTQ Rights, and Diversity Programs in Universities

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is signaling support for a looming legislative battle over abortion, LGBTQ rights, and diversity programs in the state’s universities. During his State of the State address on Tuesday, DeSantis presented himself as an alternative to former President Donald Trump and unveiled his top priorities for a second term and potential platform for a presidential run.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is considering bills that would ban abortion after six weeks, with an exception for pregnancies caused by rape or incest, and make it illegal to send abortion medications through the mail.[0] In addition, lawmakers are looking to limit liberal influences in schools and state government, including eliminating college majors in gender studies, outlawing gender-affirming care for trans youth, and extending a ban on teaching about gender and sexuality from third grade up to eighth grade.[1]

Governor DeSantis referred to the proposed abortion bill as “sensible” and expressed his support for “pro-life legislation.”[2] He stated that the decision to ban [something] was based less on the week of gestation than on the presence of a detectable heartbeat.[2]” He also urged lawmakers to expand Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education bill,” known by opponents as “Don’t Say Gay,” which bans instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms up until third grade, and to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion programs as well as gender studies in the state university and state college systems.[3]

The governor is also traveling across the country to promote his new book, “The Courage to Be Free,” and will likely visit the early nominating states of Iowa and Nevada this weekend. DeSantis has not officially announced a presidential bid, but he’s already making moves toward a White House run.[4]

If Governor DeSantis chooses to run for federal office, a potential issue that might arise is if Florida’s Republicans would repeal the “resign-to-run law,” which prevents a state official from being an active governor and running for federal office at the same time.[5] The state repealed the law in 2007, when Governor Charlie Crist was a potential vice presidential candidate for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain.[0]

Fentrice Driskell, the Democratic leader of Florida’s House of Representatives, remarked that she had never encountered a governor who held such power over the lawmaking of the state.[6] It is not the moment to become complacent.[6]

0. “DeSantis vows legislative session will be “most productive yet,” as he mulls potential 2024 campaign” CBS News, 7 Mar. 2023,

1. “DeSantis opens Legislature with pledge to push Florida further right” Tallahassee Democrat, 7 Mar. 2023,

2. “DeSantis opens legislative session, promising more to come in culture wars, abortion bans” Miami Herald, 7 Mar. 2023,

3. “DeSantis delivers annual state of state — with an eye to 2024” POLITICO, 7 Mar. 2023,

4. “Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers State of the State address, praises ‘Florida way’ as blueprint for nation” WPTV News Channel 5 West Palm, 7 Mar. 2023,

5. “Florida Legislature’s agenda this session may offer clue to a DeSantis 2024 bid” ABC News, 7 Mar. 2023,

6. “US Republican leader Ron DeSantis lays out right-wing platform” Al Jazeera English, 7 Mar. 2023,

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