For Immediate Release:
Thursday, November 9, 2017
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Florida Competes today praised Florida Clergy United and Faith in Public Life, a prominent coalition of multi-denominational faith leaders, for their endorsement of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA). The measure, announced today that it will be led in the Senate by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg), updates Florida’s 1992 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
“When I started thinking about being a pastor of everyone…when I began to realize and recognize that to be unfair, unequal to people, it’s just simply a sin,” said Pastor Reginald Gundy of Jacksonville.
“Inscribed on the Rotunda walls of this Capitol, is the Preamble to the Florida’s Constitution. As a member of the community of faith, what concerns me most about in that Preamble is the line that says ‘can guarantee equal civil, and political rights to all,’” said Reverend Joe Parramore, co-coordinator of Florida Clergy United.
“This truly is one of the most important issues of our time,” said Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg). “I am proud to sponsor Senate Bill 66 which simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the already existing Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. This inclusion makes it clear that all Floridians deserve equal rights in employment, housing and accommodations. Eighteen states already have similar comprehensive nondiscrimination laws, and with a diverse population, this fundamental protection in our state is long overdue.”
On October 26, Florida Competes spokesperson Christina Johnson warned that Florida cities could fall short in bids for Amazon HQ2, due to a lack of a statewide nondiscrimination law, which is at odds with Amazon’s commitment to diversity and equality in the workplace.
“Ranked 12th on the Fortune 500 list, Amazon recognizes that recruiting and retaining the most talented workforce requires a great quality of life both in and out of the office,” Johnson said. “The 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies that are a part of Florida Competes have been embracing these nondiscrimination policies for years, calling on Florida legislators to modernize state law to ensure our business leaders can continue to build the economy by attracting national and international industries.”
On October 17, the Florida Competes coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron asking the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) be heard during the 2018 Legislative Session. During the 2017 session, the FCWA received unprecedented bipartisan support, with 44% of all legislators, or 70 members, signing on to the bill—yet the measure did not secure a hearing in either chamber. This year, SB 66 by Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and HB 347 by Reps. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville) have been filed.
While the state has failed to update Florida’s civil rights law, updated Human Rights Ordinances (HROs) have been passed in 12 counties and 30 municipalities throughout the state, most recently in Jacksonville. But these protections create a patchwork where employees and their families are still subject to discrimination if they live in a neighboring city or county from their workplace without a local HRO.
Major employers, including 10 Florida-based Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Raymond James, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined the coalition, along with more than 450 local businesses.