-National poll shows Florida attitudes align with national sentiment-
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – Seventy percent of Floridians favor laws that would protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing, according to a report released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). The poll comes just days after the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee heard legislation that would have updated Florida law to extend such protections to the LGBT community. While senators on the committee voted down Senate Bill 120 by Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach) in a five-to-five vote on Feb. 8, proponents remain optimistic, as it was the first time state lawmakers agreed to hear the bill.
“We are proud to have had this pro-business legislation heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee and will continue to educate stakeholders that in order for our state to remain competitive in the global marketplace, we must eliminate any and all discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in public accommodations,” said Campaign Manager of the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, Patrick Slevin. “The PRRI study reiterates what we have been telling lawmakers: The Competitive Workforce Act has bipartisan support, and the public wants to see it passed.”
The PRRI surveyed nearly 43,000 Americans via telephone from May through December 2015. Nearly 2,600 of the respondents were from Florida. Some of the other key findings from the survey are:
“Despite the fact that there are 28 states that have no LGBT nondiscrimination laws, there is near consensus support—across partisan, religious, geographic, and demographic lines—for laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodations. Even among groups that are more opposed to same-sex marriage, solid majorities nonetheless favor LGBT nondiscrimination laws,” said PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones, according to a news release from the PRRI.
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. House Bill 45 by Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and Senate Bill 120 by Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach), commonly referred to as the Competitive Workforce Act, aim to address this by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the law.
Top employers in the state have united to form the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce coalition, which aims to grow Florida’s economy by attracting and retaining the best workers to the state with the promise of equal opportunity employment. 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 on board.
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 FBCW, respectively.
The PRRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research at the intersection of religion, values and public life. To view additional details of PRRI’s findings, click here.
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 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. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com or visit the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.