New Poll:  68% of Florida Voters Support Statewide LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections

 

-Survey conducted by Coalition of Major Florida Employers Calling for Update in State Law-

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – A new poll shows 68 percent of Florida voters support legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law. That’s a net 12 percent increase in support from similar polling conducted just two years ago.

The poll was conducted by Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce (FBCW), a coalition of the state’s top employers who are calling on the legislature to make it illegal to fire a person from their job, deny them housing or public accommodations simply because they are gay or transgender. The group formed to support bipartisan legislation called the Florida Competitive Workforce Act that will be before the legislature when session begins in January.

“This poll sends an important message to our elected leaders. Floridians believe in fairness and equal opportunity and they want our laws to reflect those values,” said FBCW campaign manager Patrick Slevin. “Updating the law will help ensure that all people in our state – including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender – have the opportunity to be judged on their job performance and qualifications, nothing more, nothing less.”

The survey, conducted by Republican polling firm The Tarrance Group from August 22-25, 2015, was based on interviews of 600 likely voters in Florida, with a + 4.1 percent margin of error. Results also showed the following:

  • 65 percent of men and 70 percent of women in favor of updating the Competitive Workforce Act.
  • Support is also at 60 percent or better among voters of every age level, and fully 69 percent of seniors indicate they would favor updating the non-discrimination law.
  • Support for the law has increased by seven points to 68 percent, with 49 percent indicating they would ‘strongly favor’ updating the law. Opposition dropped five points to only 26 percent since 2013.
  • Currently, support for updating the non-discrimination law stands at 57 percent or better in every region of the state.

House Bill 45 by Republican State Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and Senate Bill 120 by Democrat State Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) was filed in August and has received bipartisan support, with Republican House Members Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Ft. Myers), Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton), Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater), and Ray Pilon (R-Sarasota) as co-sponsors.

While it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, the gay and transgender community is currently left out of statewide non-discrimination protections. There are now 35 Florida counties and municipalities who have passed anti-discrimination measures against the LGBT community, representing 55 percent of Florida residents.

Top reasons Floridians overwhelmingly support the Competitive Workforce Act include:

  • 78 percent agree that “All people – including those who are gay or transgender – should be treated fairly and equally by state laws.  Nobody should have to live in fear of being legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with job performance.”
  • 77 percent agree that “Gay and transgender people are our friends, neighbors, family and coworkers. They should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against.”
  • 72 percent agree that “Protecting people from discrimination – including people who are gay or transgender – is about treating others as we want to be treated. Even though we may have different beliefs, what is most important is focusing on respecting our coworkers, and getting the job done.”
  • 68 percent agree that “Most employers want to do the right thing, but there will always be a few people who only do what is right when the law requires it. We need laws so that all employment is based on qualification, experience and job performance – nothing more, nothing less.”

Top employers in the state have united to form the Coalition that aims to grow Florida’s economy by attracting and retaining the best workers to the state with the promise of equal opportunity employment. Thirty-five major Florida employers, including Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined, with more than 400 local businesses onboard.

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About Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce
The Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The coalition believes that the Florida Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefitted from adopting anti-discrimination policies.

The coalition is led by Patrick Geraghty, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Florida Blue in Jacksonville; John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and Worldwide CIO of Tech Data Corporation in Clearwater; and Philip Dinkins, Senior Vice President of Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa. They serve as president, secretary and treasurer of Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, respectively.  For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com or visit the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.