By Melanie Nathan, Feb 09, 2016.A motion to reconsider a contentious bill banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people failed in a Senate panel Tuesday, signaling its virtual demise for the 2016 Legislative Session. On a voice vote, the Judiciary Committee deadlocked again on a procedural move to bring the bill (SB 120) back, one day after the bill died on a 5-5 vote. Sens. Aaron Bean, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Jeff Brandes, Wilton Simpson and Kelli Stargel, all Republicans, still opposed the bill.
In favor were committee Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Sen. David Simmons, both Republicans, and Arthenia Joyner, Jeremy Ring and Darren Soto, all Democrats.
Here is the statement from Equality Florida CEO, Nadine Smith:
The tie vote in yesterday’s committee left hope that today’s hearing provided one last opportunity to move the legislation forward. We are especially disappointed in Senators Brandes and Benaquisto who led the charge to kill the legislation despite the overwhelming public support, the backing of the state’s top business leaders, and the fact that local protections cover 55% of our state’s population.
Brandes’ opposition is particularly disappointing considering he lives in a county that has had these basic protections for years. Yet he couched his opposition in phony hypotheticals and irrational fears that served to dehumanize transgender people in particular. We strongly condemn the five senators who defeated the bill by using the same scare tactics and dehumanizing rhetoric so often used by anti-gay extremists.
Currently, no state law provides critical protections for LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations. Passage of such basic legal protections by the country’s third-largest state may seem an obvious step, but the legislature has once again shirked its responsibility to ensure fairness for LGBT Floridians.
Our work is far from over. We will continue to work at the state and local level to end the current patchwork quilt of protections.
We are grateful to the legislators who have been willing to work with us to advance this long overdue legislation. Thank you to Senator Abruzzo and Representative Raschein for their heroic efforts in pushing for this bill, and thank you to the bipartisan group of over 40 legislators in the House and Senate who have signed on as co-sponsors of this bill.
We urge the House to do the right thing and move forward the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.”