“Even as cities and companies across our state adopt policies banning anti-gay and
gender identity-based discrimination, Florida law fails to provide statewide protection to
LGBT Floridians against workplace discrimination,” Mallory Wells, Public Policy
Director for Equality Florida, said in a statement upon the introduction of HB 391.  “No
one should lose their job because of who they are.”

Just this month, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) filed a
complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations after an Orlando
McDonald’s refused to hire a transgender woman, 17-year old Zikerria Bellamy.  A
manager at the store left Bellamy a voicemail stating, “We do not hire faggots.”

The manager was fired, and a spokeswoman for the restaurant told the Orlando
Sentinel that the employee had “acted outside the scope of his authority and was not
responsible.” The spokeswoman added that McDonald’s “has a zero tolerance policy
prohibiting discrimination or harassment in the restaurant.”

The manager’s actions were reprehensible, yet legal in Florida.  GLBT Floridians need
to know that they can be sacked for who they are, regardless of their actions.  Skidmore’
s bill faces an uphill ride in Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature.  But with more
than one million GLBT Floridians, as estimated by the Florida GLBT Democratic
Caucus, it’s incumbent upon our own community to encourage support for Skidmore’s
bill.  There should be strength in numbers, and it’s our own fault if we don’t use those
numbers to our benefit.

Today, GLBT Floridians can be fired for who they are.  It’s time Florida’s elected
representatives in Tallahassee know they’ll be fired by the voters in the next election for
their inaction on issues that impact our residents.  
www.ambiente.us    DECEMBER | DICIEMBRE 2009

Ed |Florida's Elected Leaders can save your job
By Stephen Gaskill

The GLBT community has achieved a few notable milestones lately.  Anise Parker has
just been elected mayor of Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city. Parker has been
the city’s controller and never hid her sexual orientation during any of her seven
consecutive successful campaigns in that city.  Closer to home, St. Petersburg voters
elected Steve Kornell as that city’s first openly-gay Councilmember last month. And in
Broward, the county’s first openly-gay Commissioner, Ken Keechl, was selected by his
colleagues to serve as County Mayor for the next year.

Small steps, to be sure, but important ones nonetheless.  Visibility on every level is key
as we attempt to overcome entrenched opposition to our full equality.  Having openly
gay and lesbian elected officials ensures a voice in policy and spending decisions that
ultimately govern the way government works.   

And these local victories can achieve what we’re unable to – yet, anyway – at the
national level.  The list of GLBT legislative goals in Washington is long, and very few
are being met.  The legislative process is always one of give and take, often a
frustrating game of hurry up and
wait.  Unfortunately, we’ve been waiting
way too long for action at the federal level
while localities move forward with equality
initiatives showing what can be done.  


LGBT/Latino/Hispanic Civil

Fresh-Squeezed Paradise

CLICK to Shop
Love and pride Jewelry
Custom Search

Wine Parties &
Unique Catering

70's Inspired
Beyond the biggest items stacking up on the GLBT equality scorecard – repealing Don’t
Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- a wide range of issues
are in the wings, from major legislative efforts like passing the Employment Non-
Discrimination Act (ENDA) to stroke-of-the-pen initiatives the White House could perform
tomorrow, like issuing an executive order to prohibit discrimination on the basis of
gender identity or expression in the federal civilian workforce or banning federal
contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Here in Florida, jockeying is already beginning on initiatives to be debated in the 2010
legislative session.  Perhaps one of the most important bills for Florida’s sizable GLBT
community is the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would add sexual orientation
and gender identity and expression to the state civil rights bill that bans discrimination in
housing, employment and public accommodations.  Sponsored by Rep. Kelly Skidmore
(D-Boca Raton), House Bill 391 is in effect a Florida version of ENDA.  A Senate version
will be introduced by Sen. Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach), who is running for Attorney

Florida’s GLBT and equality organizations are backing the bill, including Organizations
United Together (OUT) Advocacy Network, Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus, ACLU of
Florida, the Anti-Defamation League, Palm Beach Human Rights Council, SAVE Dade,
and Equality Florida, as well as other GLBT and allied organizations throughout the state.

A growing number of municipalities in Florida have added sexual orientation and/or
gender identity and expression to their local civil rights ordinances, although there is no
statewide protection.  
Make the Florida Competitive Workforce Act a reality.  Join one of these statewide
organizations to make your voice heard:

Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus                
Organizations United Together (OUT)         www.outfl.org
Equality Florida                                                   www.eqfl.org
ACLU of Florida                                                  www.aclufl.org
Anti-Defamation League                               www.regions.adl.org/florida/

CLICK HERE for more Stephen Gaskill

Copyright 2009 © AMBIENTE MAGAZINE.  Do not reproduce without citing this source.