Florida Governor Rick Scott expressed his heartbreak for the victims and families of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in his State of the State Address on Tuesday. He did not, however, go into specifics on who exactly those victims were, leaving references to LGBT and Latinx communities out of his speech.
“Since I last stood here to address you, Florida has endured many heartbreaks,” Scott said in his address. “I have prayed for families around our state who have been impacted by tragedy, and my own heart has been broken for their loss. Our state has been rocked by the gruesome terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub, in Orlando.”
The governor then used the Pulse tragedy alongside the Zika Virus and two major hurricanes to segway into the rest of his speech.
“While heartbreaking, these tragedies have given me a new perspective,” Scott continued. “I am now more convinced than ever that the future of our state is even greater than our past accomplishments and that we must be even more resolved to build a society where any child, no matter where they are from, has the opportunity to live their dreams.”
Hannah Willard, the Public Policy Director of Equality Florida, issued a statement in response to the Governor’s annual State of the State Address:
“This morning Governor Rick Scott made the Pulse tragedy a centerpiece in his annual State of the State Address,” Willard said. “While we are glad the governor spotlighted the Pulse tragedy, we are deeply disappointed that when talking about the worst anti-LGBTQ attack in our nation’s history, our governor failed to acknowledge the LGBTQ community in any way.”
Willard continued by calling on Florida elected leaders to honor the victims and families of the Pulse massacre by taking action against the “hatred and bigotry that fueled this attack.”
Willard encouraged the governor in her statement to adopt The Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. This would enforce LGBT protections from discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces.
“Unfortunately, under Florida law it remains legal to fire LGBTQ people, evict us from our homes, and deny us service at a public business just because of who we are,” Willard said. “ When our own state government fails to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, it sends a message that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is acceptable and it plants the seeds for future hate violence against us.”
Willard also argued that the Florida Competitive Workforce Act would bring millions of dollars in revenue if enacted, as Florida’s marketplace would become a more competitive to potential LGBT employees. This was in response to Governor Scott’s focus on incentivizing businesses to relocate to Florida and attracting the best and brightest workforce.
“We urge the Florida Legislature to move equally forward in our state by passing the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, encouraging economic growth, and ensuring that all Floridians have the opportunity to live, work, and play in our state,” Willard said.