A bill to protect LGBT people in Florida from workplace discrimination was introduced in the Florida Senate on Tuesday by State Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), who is also the chair of the Republican Party of Florida.
“This is different because it’s focused on just workplace protections for the entire community,” said Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE. “We have a responsibility to our community and our donors to push a bill that has a chance of movement. We can’t continue to push a bill that flounders.”
Lima and Rand Hoch from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council believe this piece of legislation will have a stronger chance of becoming law since it was introduced by the newly elected chair of the Republican Party in Florida.
“This will send a strong message to other conservatives,” Lima said.
The bill, the Florida Inclusion Workforce Act (FIWA), would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Florida's Civil Rights Act.
“[This] bill is sharply focused on the key economic discrimination faced by LGBTQ Floridians -- discrimination in the workplace," said Hoch, President and Founder of the PBCHRC. "Achieving this first step will open the door, enabling us to move forward to protect our community in every part of Florida and in every area of our lives."
The bill was a collaboration between Gruters and SAVE Florida, a coalition that includes SAVE, PBCHRC, Translatina and the Conservatives on the Right of Equality. Former State Representative David Richardson (D-Miami Beach) also provided assistance with the bill.
"For the past decade, passing protections for the LGBTQ community was not made a legislative priority. Continuing to rely on a failed strategy -- and a bill that has floundered for years -- no longer makes sense,” Richardson said in a press release. "Policy change is often incremental. I applaud Senator Gruters for his fresh approach which is fully inclusive of the LGBTQ community."
Lima said a similar bill in the Florida House of Representatives would be introduced in a few weeks.
When asked if he believed newly elected Republican Governor Ron DeSantis would sign legislation protecting the LGBT community Lima said, “There is a possibility. We have hope.”