Bill to prohibit LGBT discrimination in Florida introduced with bipartisan support

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two Florida lawmakers, a Democrat and a Republican, have joined forces to introduce legislation aimed at prohibit discrimination against LGBT Floridians in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee.

Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo, Fla.) and Democratic Whip Sen. Joseph Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) filed the legislation Monday in the Florida House and Senate respectively.

Known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), the legislation would amend Chapter 760 of the Florida State Statutes that currently prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

The bill would add protections for more than 536,000 LGBT adults living in Florida, according to Equality Florida, a statewide LGBT advocacy group.

“Despite overwhelming public support and the passage of local equal rights ordinances throughout the state, there is no statewide law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.

“Most people are actually surprised to discover these protections don’t already exist because it seems such common sense,” said Smith. “Updating the law will help ensure that all people in our state have the opportunity to be judged on their job performance and qualifications, nothing more, nothing less.”

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Smith said that with bipartisan support in the legislature and increased support from both the business community and the public at large, the FCWA will make Florida a more attractive place in which to live and work.

Last year, Raschein served as the prime co-sponsor of the bill and helped to secure more than 10 GOP co-sponsors.

“Passing the Competitive Workforce Act makes good sense economically and benefits employers and employees by offering a law that is consistent across the state,” Raschein said in a statement.

“Recruiting and retaining talent regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity will only serve to enhance our reputation and augment our economic viability,” added Abruzzo.

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