Florida Dwarf Tossing Ban Repeal Dropped By Bill Sponsor Ritch Workman

BIG VICTORY: Florida Dwarf Tossing Ban Repeal Dropped By Bill Sponsor

A repeal to Florida's ban on dwarf tossing has been dropped by the state legislator who initally proposed it.

In November, Rep. Ritch Workman (R) spearheaded an effort to repeal a longstanding ban on "dwarf-tossing" -- a bar fad in which individuals of small stature are thrown around for entertainment purposes.

"I'm on a quest to seek and destroy unnecessary burdens on the freedom and liberties of people," he told the Palm Beach Post. "This is an example of Big Brother government."

However, it looks like he's had a big change of heart, and has let the proposed repeal die.

"I find the practice of dwarf-tossing repulsive. I would never go to an event. But what I found more repulsive is that in 1980, this state decided that a person of sane mind -- a full human with a full human mind -- could not make their own decision to act like a fool," he told Florida Today, before explaining why he decided to drop the proposed repeal.

After the repeal effort was reported, Workman said he was contacted by little people from all over America who asked him to reconsider.

"They are lawyers, elected officials and all struggle to get past that carnival thing from 100 year ago," he told Florida Today. "I had a doctor, a lovely woman from New York, call me and say, 'Has anyone ever stopped you on the street and hugged you? Rubbed your head? Taken pictures of you? I said, 'No.'"

"She said, 'Well, I'm a doctor, and people think I'm some sort of circus clown," he continued. "And although I agree that I should have the right to be tossed in a bar if I want to, can you please stop talking about this?'

At that point, Workman decided to stop fighting for the repeal, adding, "Not because I'm wrong on the liberty issue, but sometimes human dignity needs to prevail."

Workman's decision to let the bill die is a quiet victory for little people like Leah Smith, the vice president of communications for Little People of America, an advocacy group for short-statured Americans.

"This is huge," Smith told The Huffington Post. "When we got the ban the first time [in 1980], we had a huge fight. All things considered, this was as big of a fight, but it shows that a lot of progress has been made."

Much of that progress has been a heightened awareness of among the group's own membership.

"It used to be when things like [the proposed repeal] happened, a few members would grumble, but now we're starting to say, 'We're not going to take it anymore.'"

The repeal is just one of many events that have happened in the last six months that have galvanized the little people community.

In January, actor Peter Dinklage used his Golden Globe acceptance speech for "Game of Thrones" to raise awareness about Martin Henderson, a dwarf who claims he was partially paralyzed on his birthday when a stranger lifted and heaved him onto the hard ground outside an English pub.

Then there was the controversial discussion about little people between Rosie O'Donnell and Chelsea Handler where O'Donnel admitted she was afraid of them and Handler joked that having sex with a dwarf would be "child abuse."

But while there are many little people who are happy that Workman is not pursuing the dwarf tossing ban repeal, there are some like Dave "The Dwarf" Flood, a 47-year-old entertainer in Tampa, Fla., who says its his right to do what he wants with his body.

"If I was 7 feet tall, I'd be playing basketball," he told The Huffington Post when the proposed repeal was first announced. "Being short gives me an advantage in dwarf tossing. I'm just playing the hand that's been dealt me."

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