Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Florida State Senate Considers Comprehensive LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

Today, the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing regarding a comprehensive LGBT anti-discrimination bill.

From Equality Florida:

The committee will hear The Florida Competitive Workforce Act (SB 120) which would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations. This the first time the legislation will be heard by legislators.

“This is a huge breakthrough not only for Florida but for the South and the nation as the third most populous state takes up long overdue, basic protections.,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s Executive Director. “The Florida Competitive Workforce Act has bipartisan support in both chambers, the support of Fortune 500 Companies, over 400 small businesses and a strong majority of Floridians. It’s time for Florida to pass this common-sense legislation.”

Currently 55% of Florida’s population, in 38 municipalities, are protected at the local level by nondiscrimination laws, but no uniform statewide law exists, leaving many vulnerable to discrimination. The bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to pre-existing nondiscrimination laws that already cover race, religion, disability, age and other categories.

A recent Harris poll showed half of Americans believe “gay people have the same rights as everyone else.”

Unfortunately, the majority of states — 31 to be exact — don’t have fully inclusive laws in place that protect LGBT Americans from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

UPDATE: Time ran out in the Senate Judiciary Committee and no vote was taken on the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (SB 120) today.

But Chair Diaz de la Portilla guaranteed that it will be the first bill heard in next week's committee meeting and that there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

"Having waited almost a decade for the most important civil rights legislation to be considered by the Florida Legislature in years, we can wait just one more week,” said Carlos Guillermo Smith, Equality Florida’s Government Affairs Manager. “We have been assured by Senator Diaz de la Portilla that our bill will be heard in next week's committee, that it will be first on the agenda, and that it will be given the full hearing and debate the bill deserves.”

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