A bill filed by Florida Representative David Richardson would change the way the state recognizes gender identity in statutes.
House bill 1151, filed by Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat, seeks to update Florida laws to reflect the realities of everyday life in a post marriage equality nation.
“There is still more work that needs to be done to achieve full equality in the state and this bill moves us one step closer to achieving that end,” Richardson said.
Richardson described the bill as a housekeeping effort to update language that is inclusive of all families by striking words that are gender-specific rather than gender-neutral. Senator Darren Soto (D-Orlando) is offering to file the bill, reviewed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, in the Senate.
“In the wake of the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision ratifying marriage equality, there is still much to be done to foster equality for all Floridians,” Soto said in a news release. “This legislation will greatly assist same-sex parents in the birth certificate process to help foster loving families across our state.”
First elected in 2012, Richardson is the lone openly gay Florida legislator. He is the Democrats’ ranking member on the Rules, Calendar and Ethics Committee and was instrumental last session in removing a 38-year ban on same-sex adoptions from Florida statues.
“The way you do that is you build bridges to the other side of the aisle,” Richardson said of his success in lifting the ban on gay adoptions. “There is no way for anyone in the minority party to get anything done if you are acting alone.”
In an interview with SFGN prior to the start of the 2016 session, Richardson said he did not foresee a large of amount of anti-gay bills headed to Tallahassee this year.
“It’s just not as fashionable to gay bash anymore,” Richardson said.
As for House bill 45, commonly known as the Competitive Workforce Act, Richardson said he is hoping to see traction for a law that would protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace, public housing and accommodations. The bill, surprisingly,has been introduced in the House by Republicans Chris Latvala of Clearwater and Holly Raschien of Key Largo.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle,” Richardson admitted, noting the bill has never received a committee hearing. “But, I think this particular session is not going to be as hateful and heinous as some of the prior sessions unless we see some of the crazy amendments come out.”