TAMPA, Fla. - Britney Spears' fight to end her conservatorship is inspiring new legislation on Capitol Hill. Florida Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist is leading the effort by introducing legislation Tuesday known as the Free Britney Act, or the FREE Act.
The movement known as #Free Britney is a campaign created in early 2019 by some of Britney Spears' biggest fans. It spread like wildfire on social media and shed light on the star's conservatorship she herself has called 'abusive'. Now, more than two years later, the movement is motivating lawmakers to take action against conservatorship abuse.
"Her situation is a nightmare and if it can happen to Britney Spears it can happen to any in this country," U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace said.
Tuesday, Rep. Mace and Rep. Crist, who is running to replace Ron DeSantis as Florida's governor, introduced the Free Britney Act, or the FREE Act, which stands for Freedom and the Right to Emancipate from Exploitation.
"The main point of this is just to give some balance so that the individual will have rights that are respected and respect their dignity," U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist said.
If passed, conservatees would have the right to petition the court to have their private conservator removed and replaced with a public guardian or conservator without needing to prove misconduct or abuse. It would also assign an independent caseworker to the conservatorship to monitor for signs of abuse and require all parties involved to disclose their finances to ensure there are no conflicts of interest.
FILE - Jamie Lynn Spears and sister Britney Spears at the 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards.
"It's really empowered people to look at what current rights do people have and what do we have that others may not have. In Britney's situation, she's a functioning adult in society and she still doesn't have those rights," Britney Spears fan Marcus DiMaiolo said.
DiMaiolo was one of dozens who took the streets near Curtis Hixon Park earlier this month to march in support of the singer.
"I'm hopeful that this situation and the publicity that it has gotten really draws attention to this situation other people are going through," DiMaiolo said.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, 1.3 million adults in the US are under conservatorships. Both lawmakers are confident the bi-partisan effort will be key in getting the legislation passed.
"This legislation will give the individual the opportunity to petition that court to make sure that right prevails," Crist said.
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has also spoken out on Spears' behalf, publicly asking the songstress to speak before Congress about her experience with conservatorship.
Lawmakers say the bill would also provide much-needed transparency. If passed, it would require states to submit annual reports on the state of guardianships and conservatorships in their states.