ORLANDO, Fla. — Commissioners in Orange County, Fla., voted earlier this week to extend anti-discrimination laws, adding marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected statuses in private sectors of business and housing.
Under the new Human Rights Ordinance, approved by a 6-1 vote on Tuesday, businesses and property owners cannot discriminate based on the new classes.
Kudos to Commissioners Linda Stewart, Bill Segal and Mayor Crotty in particular for their leadership. Commissioner Fred Brummer was the lone “NO” vote.
Orange County is the largest local government in Central Florida. The passage of the ordinance is the culmination of years of organizing, lobbying and education. Equality Florida is a proud member of the Orlando Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Committee aka OADO. Kudos to all OADO leaders: Michael Slaymaker, Mary Meeks, Kathryn Norsworthy, Patrick Howell, Tom Woodard, Drew Weinbrenner, Lisa Tilman-Healy along with Equality Florida Boardmember Pat Padilla and staff members Joe Saunders and Mallory Wells.
The vote was notable for its lack of opposition. No residents spoke against it, in stark contrast to the city of Orlando’s passage of similar protections in 2002, which attracted fierce debate, religious group antagonism and a close vote.
“It’s a completely different world than it was 10 years ago,” said Patrick Howell, a lawyer and activist who lobbied for the new protections in both Orlando and the county.
The new the law exempts religious organizations and small businesses.