Gay Rep Suggests Different Approach For Florida Protections

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David Richardson is taking the discussion away from the bathroom.

In an attempt to avoid pitfalls from previous sessions, Richardson, an openly gay Florida lawmaker, is preparing to fight for civil rights on different terms. In an interview with public broadcasting station WFSU, Richardson said a three-pronged approach is needed to pass a comprehensive bill protecting LGBT Floridians from discrimination in matters of housing, employment and public accommodations.

“There seems to be more of an appetite to address the housing component of the comprehensive bill,” Richardson told WFSU. “And there seems less interest in dealing with the public accommodation bill, quite frankly, because of the bathroom component.”

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Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat, represents house district 113 in Tallahassee. In previous sessions, Richardson has advocated for LGBT protections in the state’s youth foster care programs, introduced a bill to permit recognition of same-sex parents on their child’s birth certificate and led efforts to clean up Florida’s prison system.

Having been through a “bathroom bill” dilemma and observed North Carolina lawmakers suffer through a similar fate, Richardson said he understands some topics are better left alone.

“You have to ask yourself, do you want to try to get something accomplished or do you want to get nothing accomplished?,” Richardson asked during his WFSU interview. “I’m a legislator who is willing to move incrementally as long as it doesn’t violate my core values.”

Richardson is entering his third term in the Florida House of Representatives. The 2017 legislative session begins in March.