Last night, Osceola County became the 11th Florida county to pass a law that prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender Floridians in the workplace, in housing and in other public accommodations. That means that in Osceola County, employers can't fire someone, businesses can't refuse to serve someone and landlords can't refuse to rent to someone simply because they are gay or transgender.
Florida state law currently doesn't provide protections for LGBT individuals in its existing nondiscrimination law, which protects people from discrimination based on race, religion, sex, age, marital status or national origin. A bill called the Florida Competitive Workforce Act would adjust current language to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the current nondiscrimination law. The bill was filed by state Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Boynton Beach, and Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo. It would replace the state's patchwork of protections with a uniform law that offers all members of the LGBT community protection from discrimination across the state. According to Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition, the law would be beneficial to the state economy because it would give major employers that want to work in a modern, progressive and inclusive climate incentives to set up shop here.
Osceola County's passage of the ordinance last night gave Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition some fuel to push for the state to pass the act:
“Thirty-three Florida counties and municipalities now offer anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community, allowing for residents to live and work without fear of being fired,” said Patrick Slevin, campaign manager for the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, in a press release issued after the county commission's meeting. “The time is now for the Sunshine State to pass statewide legislation so all LGBT Floridians are protected, which is why 34 large employers and more than 400 local businesses have signed onto a petition supporting the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.”
You can watch the public testimony and discussion at the Osceola County meeting here.