Wilton Manors Backs Statewide Non-Discrimination Bills 

The Wilton Manors City Commission during Fort Lauderdale Pride. Via City of Wilton Manors, Facebook

City officials this week approved a resolution that urges the Florida Legislature to support two separate, bipartisan bills that ban anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

But this all-gay commission’s vote for approval wasn’t unanimous: Commissioner Julie Carson voted “no” because one of the bills doesn’t address discrimination in hotels, restaurants, and other public accommodations.  

Commissioner Gary Resnick voiced support for the resolution but couldn’t vote due to a conflict of interest. Mayor Justin Flippen, Vice Mayor Tom Green and Commissioner Paul Rolli voted “yes.”

“I think in today’s environment we need to be united to work together more than ever in terms of LGBTQ rights. These rights in the current environment are eroding on a daily basis and we can’t wait for perfect because perfect never comes,” Rolli said. “I don’t know any group in history that gained all their rights in one day. Civil and equal rights have all been gained incrementally so let’s please work together.”

The single resolution included support for both the Florida Inclusive Workforce Act (FIWA) and the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA). Both bills prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity and would protect the LGBT community by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Florida’s Civil Rights Act.

However, the Competitive Workforce Act additionally bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations and housing. Supporters of the Competitive Workforce Act believe that accepting anything less is a compromise, but the state Legislature has repeatedly refused to consider the measure for more than a decade.

Green said the issue was an emotional one for him.

“It’s ridiculous that (you have) two different groups of people wanting the Legislature to pass inclusive legislation, but the two groups aren’t happy with what the other group is after, so they are fighting each other and telling legislators don’t vote for that bill,” Green said. “I voted to support both. The one that has the most traction is (FIWA). The head of the Republican Party is supporting it. I felt that is the way to go.”

Mayor Justin Flippen has said the Commission recognized the merits of both resolutions.

Resnick said he was concerned that bickering between two LGBT organizations that support different bills could detract from the overall cause of stamping out discrimination.

“There are a lot of opponents to this bill who would love to just see it die. For the gay community to be fighting against anti-discrimination legislation in Tallahassee just makes it easier for these Conservative Republicans to get through their own legislation,” Resnick said. 

The Broward League of Cities Executive Committee, of which he is chairman, passed a resolution supporting FIWA last month, Resnick noted. Additionally other citieshave passed similar resolutions supporting FIWA including West Palm BeachLake WorthNorth Bay Villageand Miami Beach. Carson is the first commissioner in South Florida to vote against such a resolution. 


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