Guest Post By Brittany Link
As our organization headed into 2016, it felt a bit like deja vu. Once again, we were preparing for a possible historic year in the fight for full equality for LGBTQ Floridians!
Last year, we secured the freedom to marry in the Sunshine State almost seven months before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. And this year, Florida lawmakers have taken up legislation (the Florida Competitive Workforce Act) that would update state laws to include nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community.
“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.”
Already we’ve seen historic firsts for the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) since the start of this legislative session. The bill has picked up critical support in the Senate with the addition of two Republican Senators. Additionally, FCWA is scheduled to have its first-ever hearing by lawmakers in the Senate Judiciary Committee!
But as encouraged as we are about the FCWA taking its next steps forward, we’re still facing a post-marriage backlash similar to many states across the country.
The so-called “Pastor Protection” Act recently passed through its first Senate Committee where legislators laid out their true intentions for the bill, clearly stating support for expanding the bill to include all individuals who may wish to assert their religious or moral objections to avoid providing services to certain customers. The expanded bill sounds disturbingly similar to the bill passed in Indiana last year that allowed business owners to deny goods and services to LGBT customers.
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