Three South Florida cities have now passed resolutions urging the Florida Legislature to support a bill that will protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination. But Florida’s gayest city, Wilton Manors, wasn’t able to muster enough support for a similar resolution at its last commission meeting.
Lake Worth, North Bay Village and Miami Beach all unanimously passed their resolutions. But Wilton Manorsits resolution since one commissioner recused himself from the vote, another was absent, and a third opposed it – leaving only two yes votes.
Wilton Manors City Commissioner Julie Carson refused to support the resolution because the Florida Inclusive Workforce Act doesn’t address discrimination in hotels, restaurants, and other public accommodations.
Oakland Park resident Jen Laws, a public policy consultant and trans man attended the meeting to lend his support to the resolution.
“I’m glad it will be a continuing conversation. I really wish it had passed,” he said. “At the end of the day, workplace protections provide an avenue in which we can achieve other metrics of equality.”
Here’s what commissioners from the other cities had to say:
Andy Amoroso, the gay Vice Mayor of Lake Worth: “We embrace all people We need to support every bill going forward that can protect our rights.”
Julianna Strout, commissioner from North Bay Village: “Being a champion for workplace protections is extremely important to me. We need to create a ripple effect to ensure change in Tallahassee no matter how large or small your city is - you have power in creating change.”
John Elizabeth Alemán, commissioner from Miami Beach: “The most fulfilling thing for a person is to achieve independence and to be able to provide for themselves and their family. Every person deserves the opportunity to contribute at their fullest potential.”
SAVE Florida, a coalition of local groups including SAVE and the Palm Beach Human Rights Council, is the main group advocating for FIWA.
The Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, State Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), though is the person who filed FIWA, giving LGBT activists hope it would have a chance at passing in the Republican dominated Florida legislature.
So far five democratic state senators have co-sponsored the bill including Lori Berman, Boynton Beach; Jason Pizzo, North Miami Beach; Annette Taddeo, Miami; Kevin Rader, Boca Raton; and Bobby Powell, West Palm Beach.
Some LGBT activists have come out in opposition to the bill because it only covers discrimination in the workplace, leaving the fight over housing and public accommodations for another day.
“We are trying to protect as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time,” said Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE.
There also appears to be confusion over whether FIWA protects the transgender community.
But FIWA is clear in that it adds both sexual orientation and gender identity to Florida’s Civil Rights Act. Additionally, a coalition of local trans groups came together releasing a statement of support.
See page XXXfor more information on the Wilton Manors vote.Visit for in-depth coverage of FIWA.