Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in Florida, it's also still completely within the law for an employer to fire someone for being gay or a landlord to deny housing to a transgender tenant in large swaths of the state. For the tenth time, a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers (yes, even some Republicans) and some of Florida's biggest employers tried to change this by supporting the Florida Competitive Workplace Act. It failed again after dying today in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
However, this was the first time the bill actually received a hearing in all the years it's been introduced. Plus, if it did somehow make its way through the Republican-controlled Senate, it likely would have died in the much more conservative House. Gov. Rick Scott hadn't specifically addressed the bill this year, but given his history
The bill was pretty simple. It would have added gender identity and sexual orientation to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992.
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Yet, social conservatives in the Judiciary Committee got hung up on the idea of transgender people using bathrooms and the threats of frivolous lawsuits. The bill was initially met with a 6-6 vote on Monday. Sponsor Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, a Boynton Beach Democrat, used a procedural move to bring it up for discussion again yesterday, but the bill was ultimately tabled. Meaning that it's more than likely dead.
Sure, several counties and municipalities have ordinances that protect LGBT rights. Fifty-five percent of the state's population are covered by those local laws, and if you live in South Florida, you're protected. However, 45 percent of the state's population doesn't live in areas with those local laws.
Of course, in the areas where such laws already exist there hasn't been a rise in frivolous lawsuits or bathroom troubles, but Republicans in the Florida legislature never let facts get in the way of making a decision.
Scott has tried to rebrand Florida as business-friendly, but the harsh death of the bill wasn't too friendly to the numerous businesses who supported it, including Walt Disney World, the Home Shopping Network, Carnival Cruise Line, the Miami Heat, Winn-Dixie, Raymond James, AT&T, Darden, Marriott, and more.