As the U.S. Senate prepares to pass a bill banning discrimination against gay and transgendered workers, a similar piece of legislation has been filed by Florida lawmakers. The bill has failed many times before in Florida, but sponsors insist this year is different.
Florida law already prohibits employers, landlords and providers of goods and services from discriminating against someone or harassing them because of their race, religion or other attributes. The bill adds gender identity and sexual orientation to that list.
Following in the footsteps of lawmakers in a handful of other states, a Florida state senator has filed a bill banning so-called “gay-conversion therapy” for children. The American Psychological Association says treatment aimed at changing sexuality hurts young people more often than it helps.
The bill would prohibit licensed mental health practitioners from trying to change the sexual orientation of a minor. Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) sponsored the bill, saying he equates "reparative therapy" with abuse.
It would be illegal for employers to discriminate based on employees’ sexual orientation or gender identity, if a bipartisan-sponsored bill passes the Florida Legislature. The sponsors say the measure should help the state attract business.
The anti-discrimination bill, called the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, would expand the protections given to all genders and ability levels, and apply them to sexual orientations and gender identities.
Mallory Wells, with the advocacy group Equality Florida, said, “Right now, you can be fired for being gay in Florida.”
The Florida Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a child-custody dispute between two women. Legal experts say, the case highlights how state law does not reflect scientific advances and the variety of family structures that exist in Florida.