Queer rights are at risk in Florida due to a bill that could decimate legal protections for LGBTQ Floridians when it comes to housing and employment. House Bill 3, which was debated yesterday in the Florida House State Affairs Committee, would repeal local level non-discrimination ordinances based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill could make it unlawful for a city or county to issue their own protections for queer community members in the state.
And scarily, the bill looks like it has a chance of passing. The bill was originally filed by Republican Representative Michael Grant from Port Charlotte and was approved 9 to 5 along party lines in first committee vote it underwent. Now, if the Senate Affairs Committee approves the ordinance, it would just need to pass a full vote on the floor of the Florida House before becoming law.
Florida doesn’t have a statewide anti-discrimination ordinance that protects LGBTQ people in housing and employment, but local ordinances offering protection are popular in the state. “HB 3 represents one of the most dangerous threats to equality we’ve faced in Florida and would strip basic nondiscrimination protections from nearly 13 million Floridians,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director, in a statement. “Florida cities and counties have led the way in protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination by passing local protections that now cover 60% of the state. HB 3 is sweeping legislation that threatens to repeal vital protections, endanger tourism, impact our economy and hurt our state’s reputation for decades.”
“Florida’s political leaders should learn the lessons from other states that took this reckless path that hurt their state’s economy and reputation,” said Human Rights Campaign National Field Director Marty Rouse in a statement. “Now is the time for Florida to lead the South in protecting Floridians and visitors from discrimination not introduce dangerous anti-LGBTQ legislation that would roll back needed protections here in The Sunshine State.”
Other states, including Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina have attempted to pass similar legislation prohibiting local anti-discrimination ordinances in the past, most of which was met with backlash from the business community and economic boycotts. And unfortunately, this is only the most recent anti-LGBTQ legislation that has been proposed this year.