Florida state policymakers plan to push LGBT rights in 2014

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Several bills written by democratic senators in the state of Florida which aim to extend employment and benefit protections to gay, lesbian, and transgender persons are rumored to be underway, with the intention of pushing for equal rights in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the federal Civil Rights Act.

Six bills are anticipated to hit the Florida senate floor in 2014, extending protections to nonresident immigrant children, those with criminal convictions, and pregnant women, as well as a non-discrimination bill for LGBT workers, and the creation of a domestic partner registry.

The bills are part of a movement that started back in April 2013, when a Florida Senate committee approved the state’s first bill to allow domestic partner registration, which included rights for same-sex couples.

The committee had “made history” that day, according to Senator Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood, though many conceded that the bill had little chance of passing the Florida Senate floor.

In June 2013, Equality Florida and Freedom to Marry launched the Get Engaged campaign, which aims to reverse the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Featuring real stories of LGBT couples across the state who advocate for their right to get married, the campaign is supported by some twenty-five of Florida’s mayors across the state, including Matti Bower of Miami Beach and John Marks of Tallahassee.

“Florida has changed dramatically since 2008, when just over 60 percent of voters embedded marriage discrimination into the constitution,” Equality Florida member Nadine Smith told Pink News.

“In fact, only 23 percent of Floridians now oppose gay couples having all the rights and benefits of marriage,” she continued.

Eighteen states now have legal same-sex marriage; there has been a marked increase in LGBT rights victories across the nation since the United States Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013.

429Magazine

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