Three questions for the candidates running for governor: LGBTQ

Pride
LGBTQ flag. CD Davidson-Hiers photo

Today on the Florida Phoenix, we continue our election series, where we ask three questions of the candidates for Florida governor, who face off in the Aug. 28 primary. Each day we’ll cover a different topic of interest to voters. Today we ask about policies affecting the LGBTQ community.

The Republican candidates — Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis — chose not to participate in the “Three Questions” series. The five Democrats running for governor responded, and we present their answers in alphabetical order.

  1. Florida currently has no state leave law which permits leave for a same-sex spouse or partner. Do you think that’s an issue? How would you address it?

Andrew Gillum:

It’s absolutely an issue. While I certainly support extending same-sex partner leave laws across our state, we must also stop legislators from preempting local leave laws, along with other local non-discrimination ordinances.

Gwen Graham:

Same-sex partners deserve the same full benefits as all other Floridians. As governor, I will sign an executive order immediately banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the Governor’s office and executive agencies.

Jeff Greene:

Yes, we should have that.

Chris King:

In addition to the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, I believe it is long past time to recognize that same-sex couples have the same problems and responsibilities as opposite-sex couples and therefore deserve the same rights, benefits and protections under the law. This includes leave but should also be expanded to every other right and benefit enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Given the universal recognition of same-sex marriage, we cannot perpetuate a second-class status for same-sex couples in other areas of the law. I believe that the governor of Florida has to serve as a strong voice on these issues and that much progress can be made if the governor shows the moral courage to do so. Of course, I would work tirelessly using all the legal and political levers available to the governor as well.

Philip Levine:

Parental leave is a policy I support – regardless if the couple is same-sex or not, it does not make a difference and we shouldn’t be complicating people’s paths to parenthood. I support a statewide policy to ensure all parents have access to leave after having a child

2. Many local governments in Florida have banned conversion therapy but there is  no statewide ban. Should Florida have a statewide ban? If so, how would you support it? If not, why not?

Andrew Gillum:

Conversion therapy is a cruel, inhumane practice that denies our people the right to live free from fear of persecution for who they are. As governor, I would support a statewide ban, and would work with our state’s leading equality organizations like Equality Florida to advance such legislation.

Gwen Graham:

Conversion therapy is junk science. It’s hurtful and cruel, and there is no place for it in Florida. We need to welcome and love our young people for who they are. Period. Nine states and 15 municipalities in Florida have banned this horrible practice, and it’s time for it to be outlawed by the whole state.

Jeff Greene:

Yes, we should have a statewide ban.

Chris King:

Florida should absolutely have a statewide ban on conversion therapy. Not only has conversion therapy been completely discredited, but it is also an insult to members of our LGBTQ community that we would even permit conversion therapy to be practiced in the first place. Someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a personal matter and we cannot permit others to think it is their place to impose their will over that of the individual.

Philip Levine:

Yes, this is a barbaric practice and is something that should absolutely be banned – as governor I will push for legislation to make sure it does not happen in our state going forward.

3. The Florida Competitive Workforce Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of groups protected against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations, but has always died in committee. Do you think the act is important and if so, what would you do to support it?

Andrew Gillum:

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act is common-sense, bipartisan legislation at its best. It’s the third most co-sponsored bill in the legislature. It extends benefits that already cover 60 percent of Floridians and workers at 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies. It would have a $5 billion positive economic impact. Yet year after year, it fails to advance through our legislature. As governor, I will work closely with lawmakers and legislative leaders across the aisle to get this bill to my desk, where I’ll proudly sign it. Floridians deserve to work in an environment where they’re respected, no matter whom they love.

Gwen Graham:

Yes. As governor, I will fight for a statewide human rights statute that bans discrimination for gender, sexual orientation or gender identity and will sign an executive order immediately doing the same in the governor’s office.

Jeff Greene:

I will fight to get it passed.

Chris King:

Passing the Florida Competitive Workforce Act is of utmost importance to me. I would get it passed in the first legislative session I oversee as governor. It is simply unconscionable that we have not passed it already, as we are treating a large number of Floridians as second-class citizens. I believe we have a legislature that is ready to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act but that we need a governor who is willing to go to bat for the LGBTQ community and speak truth to the moral outrage that it has not already happened. I will be that governor.

Philip Levine:

As mayor of Miami Beach, we earned consecutive perfect scores from the Human Rights Campaign – Florida must follow suit and pass the strongest non-discrimination laws. I fully support the competitive workforce act and will use the office of the governor to push for its passage through the legislature.

CD Davidson-Hiers
CD Davidson-Hiers is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing and French. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honors societies, and has received multiple writing awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Prior to joining the Florida Phoenix, CD worked at the Tallahassee Democrat and has bylines in Tallahassee Magazine. She is a native of Pensacola and currently lives in Tallahassee with her tabby cat, Faulkner.

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