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Florida Advocates Say U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Still Doesn't Protect LGBTQ People From Discrimination In Housing And Healthcare

Woman in beanie holds sign that reads, "the scary gay agenda" below is a checklist of items, "laundry, dishes, groceries, job, vacuum, equality."
Robbie Gaffney
/
WFSU
LGBTQ advocates have been pushing for anti-discrimination laws to be passed in Florida to no avail.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the 1964 Civil Rights Act banning sex discrimination in the workplace applies to LGBTQ employees. The move prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Florida LGBTQ advocates say, despite the court's landmark decision, state lawmakers still need to pass laws protecting LGBTQ people in areas like housing and healthcare.

For more than a decade, Florida lawmakers have ignored and shot down bills to protect LGBTQ people from workplace discrimination. Now, Florida LGBTQ advocates are hoping the new federal ruling will change that. Jon Davidson is the chief counsel for the advocacy group, Freedom for All Americans. He's worked on LGBTQ rights for more than 30 years.

For more than a decade, Florida lawmakers have tried and failed to approve the Competitive Workforce Act. This year’s attempt to put statewide protections…

"We still need Florida to pass comprehensive express sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections. The court ruled today about federal protections against employment discrimination," Davidson says.

Davidson explains the high court's ruling still leaves out protections for housing, healthcare, and credit. He also says places like hotels, restaurants, and stores, as well as federally funded programs like shelters and food banks, could still turn someone away based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Courts will still have to rule on that. We don't have that expressly in the law. We should have no question for anyone that that is prohibited, and it should be prohibited at both the federal level and the state level," Davidson says.

Equality Florida's Executive Director Nadine Smith, says her group will support the Florida Competitive Workforce Act for the 2021 legislative session. If approved, it would grant LGBTQ people various statewide protections. The measure has failed each year its been introduced.

"It really comes down to a small handful of people that are blocking progress, and it's our hope that today's ruling will be part of the momentum to stop that and allow these protections to become codified comprehensively in Florida law," Smith says.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.