Equality Florida urges lawmakers to pass FCWA ahead of SCOTUS decision on LGBTQ rights

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | With the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)poised to determine if federal law bars anti-LGBTQ discrimination, Equality Florida is urging lawmakers to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA) to protect LGBTQ Floridians.

Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community, has long supported the FCWA. It would amend the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 to add sexual orientation and gender identity, extendingstatewide housing, employment and public accommodation protections to the LGBTQ community.

SCOTUS announced it will review three cases regarding whether federal nondiscrimination law applies to the LGBTQ community April 22. Decisions are expected in the summer of 2020.

“Numerous cases have held that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity is sex discrimination and violates federal law,” Equality Florida shared following SCOTUS’ announcement. “With these cases, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC & Aimee Stephens, Bostock v. Clayton County, and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, the Court will now decide whether to uphold non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people—or take them away.”

The organization added that because the three cases can still be argued, passage of the FCWA in Florida is more critical than ever.

“This country’s values are rooted in the belief that all people are created—and should be treated—equally,” Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Maurer says. “No one should fear being fired or face discrimination because of who they love or who they are.Federal courts have affirmed time and again that discrimination against the LGBTQ community is against the law.

“The Supreme Court now has the opportunity to solidify those protections and reaffirm that all people should be free to work and live without fear of discrimination,” he continued. “That there is still a gray area for these civil rights to be challenged is further evidence that Florida lawmakers must pass the FCWA to make clear that Florida is open to all and will not allow discrimination.”

The FCWA currently has a record level of support in the Florida legislature. Equality Florida shared in early April that the bill had made history with the bipartisan co-sponsorship of 73 legislators, the highest level of support for LGBTQ protections in state history.

“Floridians across party lines and across the state strongly support equal rights, and we are confident that this legislation would pass if leadership allowed a floor vote,” Harris Maurer said in another statement April 5. “Governor DeSantis, Speaker Oliva and President Galvano must let the state follow the will of Floridians and join the twenty other states that have these LGBTQ protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations.”

Equality Florida noted April 22 that the Florida legislature must immediately act to resolve uncertainty in LGBTQ protections.

“The FCWA is now co-sponsored by a record 73 lawmakers, signaling loudly that there is broad bipartisan support for ensuring all Floridians have the same protections,” the organization concluded. “The Florida legislature must make passing the Florida Competitive Workforce Act a top priority and set a national tone of equality for all.”

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