It's a presidential election year in which Americans of all stripes are questioning the health of our democracy, but you don't have to start at the presidential level to realize how broken democracy can be at times. Just take a look at the Florida Legislature as a prime example.
Representatives and senators in Tallahassee this session once again killed a bill that would extend basic nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community, but a new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute finds that a full 70 percent of Florida citizens support such laws.
The survey asked a sample of more than 2,500 Floridians a simple question: "Do you favor or oppose laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing?"
A whopping 70 percent of Floridians say they favor such laws. Just 24 percent say they oppose them. Six are undecided. The nationwide percent of those who support such laws is 71 percent.
The Florida Competitive Workplace Act would have provided such protections across Florida. It was championed by some of the largest employers in the state, including Walt Disney World, Winn-Dixie, and Carnival Cruise Line. It was even cosponsored in the House by a Republican.
Yet the law died last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Of course, similar laws exist on municipal levels, and 45 percent of Floridians live in a city or county with nondiscrimination laws.
So you'd think a law that 70 percent of the state supports and that already covers 45 percent of the population would have easily passed. Not in the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature. The legacy of Anita Bryant lives on.
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SHOW ME HOW
The issue is even less controversial than gay marriage. In Florida, 53 percent say they support gay marriage while 37 percent say they oppose it.
When it comes to whether small businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBT people by citing their religious beliefs, only 35 percent of Floridians said that should be allowed. Another 58 percent said small-business owners should not be able to discriminate.
Anyway, here's your reminder that every single seat in both the state House and Senate will be up for reelection this year.