Bipartisan Support for Fla. Anti-Discrimination Measure
An inclusive non-discrimination bill in the Fla. legislature has received such strong bipartisan support that it has passed the state’s Senate.
The bill, which would extend the state’s fair housing laws and non-discrimination statutes to cover GLB people. As state law currently stands, discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability is prohibited; however, while some counties do afford anti-discrimination laws that protect gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, there is as yet no state-wide law to that effect.
A Mar. 27 press release from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, which was run on Steve Rothaus’ blog at the Miami Herald, quoted the Council’s president, retired judge Rand Hoch, who said, "For the first time in Florida’s history, thirty-seven legislators are seeking to insure that gay men and lesbians living and working in our state be afforded the same rights as all other Floridians."
The release said that the Council is "a non-profit organization which has been in the forefront of Florida’s gay rights movement since 1988."
Subsequent to the press release, Republican state lawmaker Jeff Atwater, who is the President-designate of the Senate, joined the ranks of lawmakers pressing for the expanded law and has been credited with helping the measure clear a Senate committee on Apr. 8, with a vote of 7-1. Four Republicans and three Democrats gave their vote to the measure, according to an Apr. 8 article in the Palm Beach Sentinel.
The bill was introduced by Democratic Sen. Ted Deutch, whom the press release quoted as saying, "Florida should now join the twenty states which have enacted laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation."
Atwater became a co-sponsor and helped convince other Republicans on the committee to give it their support.