Florida cities are leading the way in open and inclusive policies that protect LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination.
In the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index report, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Wilton Manors all received 100% perfect scores for LGBT-inclusion in their municipal policies. These scores, beyond signaling a commitment to civil rights, serve as an important guide for business leaders as they map out future locations for economic development.
HRC’s president Chad Griffin explains:
“Today, the MEI serves as a vital tool for business leaders and municipal officials alike when it comes to economic development. CEOs know that in order to attract and retain the best employees, they must grow their companies in places that protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination and actively open their doors to all communities. The MEI is the best tool to help these businesses make crucial evaluations about the welcoming — or unwelcoming — nature of towns and cities across the nation.”
Across Florida, more than 40 municipalities have modernized their local laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity—covering 60% of the population. And while these laws have boosted local economies and helped Florida municipalities drive tourism and investment, state law has yet to catch up.
That’s why last week, a bipartisan team of lawmakers introduced the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would update Florida law to ensure these vital protections, allowing the Sunshine State to compete in the global economy and attract top talent.
Last year, a record-breaking 70 lawmakers—that’s 44% of the Legislature—sponsored this legislation, joining with 450+ businesses, including many of the state’s largest employers, in supporting legislation affirming that Florida is open for everyone.
After lawmakers failed to advance the bill in 2017, despite this unprecedented support, businesses are already doubling down in advance of the 2018 session, in a letter addressed to Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran urging swift action on the Competitive Workforce Act in 2018.
Prominent signers from Florida’s business community include Eric S. Woolworth, President of the Miami HEAT and American Airlines Arena; Roger C. Frizzell, Chief Communications Officer at the Carnival Corporation; Julio Fuentes, President and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Carol B. Dover, President and CEO of Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
As communities across Florida adopt pro-business laws against discrimination, it’s finally time for lawmakers to push this discussion on a statewide level. In 2018, it’s time to give serious consideration to the FL Competitive Workforce Act—the future of our economy depends on it!