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Lawmakers Want Workplace Protection For LGBT Community

Davondra Alston

The Competitive Workforce Act would prohibit discrimination for LGBT individuals working for businesses in Florida.

Rep. Ben Diamond (R-St. Petersburg) says he is proud to have filed Senate Bill 66 again this year.

"From my perspective this is the right thing to do," he says, "this is also the smart thing for our state to do from a business perspective. We have learned there is a significant economic impact to the problems of discrimination and that’s why we believe there needs to be statewide protections in these areas."

Diamond says the bill does not affect the first amendment; and believes everyone should have the right to work in all places free of discrimination. The bill would add LGBT people to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992.

"Unfortunately the civil rights protections that we need for our LGBT community are not on the books. And that’s what we’re trying to do with this law; we’re trying to update our civil rights laws statewide." Diamond says, "We think about the efforts we’re trying to make as a state to recruit major employers here, like Amazon."

Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith (D-Orlando) says many of the fortune 500 companies had nondiscrimination policies for LGBT individuals currently.

"They’re doing that," Guillermo-Smith says, "not only because they know it’s the right thing to but they know it’s the right thing to do for their business if they want to recruit top talent and they want to make sure that they have a diverse workforce that obviously yields more productivity and more success in the short and long term."

According to Florida Competes, a coalition of over 450 businesses, 73 percent of Floridians support such rules and 82 percent of Fortune 500 companies have internal protections in place.