National and local news bites for the week.
NATIONAL — GOP Divided Over Marriage Equality
Politico’s James Hohmann writes that the GOP establishment is now officially divided over the issue of gay marriage where just a few years ago there was universal opposition.
“Watch the tone. The Republican establishment doesn’t want to talk about gay marriage, knowing that many major donors, not to mention younger people, support gay rights,” he writes. “But several would-be candidates need strong support from evangelicals in Iowa and South Carolina to have any path to the nomination. It’s easy to imagine former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who need these voters, calling out other candidates for appeasing the gay rights lobby.”
STATE — Florida Competitive Workforce Act Garners Bipartisan Support
Representative Holly Raschein (R- Key Largo) and Democratic Whip Senator Joseph Abruzzo (D- Boynton Beach) filed legislation in the Florida House and Senate that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations.
The legislation, known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA), would amend the Florida State Statutes that currently prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Last year Rep. Raschein served as the prime co-sponsor of the bill and helped to secure more than 10 GOP co-sponsors.
LOCAL – Broward Judge Overturns Gay Marriage Ban
[Watermark] On Dec. 8, Circuit Court Judge Dale Cohen in Broward County ruled in favor of Heather Brassner, who had wanted to divorce her estranged spouse for more than four years, but couldn’t do so because the Vermont union wasn’t recognized in Florida.
In his decision, Cohen wrote that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2008, violates the due process of equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution. It also states that Florida’s failure to recognize legal out-of-state civil unions, like Brassner’s, violates those same clauses “without any rational basis.”
LOCAL — Miami Votes to Protect Transgender Folks
The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners voted in favor 8-3 a historic proposal to extend nondiscrimination protections to transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. The update adds protections from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.
The commissioners voting in favor of the update were Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa; Sally Heyman, Audrey Edmonson, Bruno Barreiro, Barbara Jordan and Daniella Levine Cava; as well as Xavier Suarez, and incoming Chairman Jean Monestime. Those voting against were Commissioners Esteban "Steve" Bovo, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, and Juan Zapata. Commissioner Dennis Moss co-sponsored the proposal, but could not be present tocast his vote.