Equality Florida goes to rule making process to try to enact nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ state workers

Rick Scott

Two years ago, Governor Rick Scott promised to sign an executive order that would protect Floridians from discrimination on the basis of their for sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBTQ activists say. Scott never delivered on that promise, and now a civil rights group is going through the state rulemaking process to have the non-discrimination policy implemented.

Equality Florida has filed the Petition for Rulemaking with the Florida Department of Management Services, requesting that the agency craft a rule that prohibits such discrimination against state workers. The state has 30 days to either start developing a rule or deny the petition.

Officials with Equality Florida met with Scott administration officials just a few weeks after the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre, where 49 people were killed in the gay Orlando club.

The subject of that Tallahassee meeting: asking for an executive order from Scott banning LGBTQ discrimination in the state workforce. Despite assurances from the state officials that it would be addressed, Equality Florida says that Scott has refused invitations to meet with state employees and Pulse survivors about establishing an Executive Order.

“Governor Scott broke his promise, and when he was caught not telling the truth, he suddenly claimed the Executive Order he committed to wasn’t necessary,” says Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith. “If he really believes those protections exist, he should have no problem showing everyone the written guidelines he has provided staff to ensure compliance. That is why we have filed this administrative petition. No more vague words. We want a clear policy.”

“Florida is a state that doesn’t tolerate discrimination of any form,” said McKinley Lewis from the Governor’s press office. “In accordance with federal law and guidelines, Florida state agencies do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and state employees should not be discriminated against in any way.”
A group of bipartisan legislators have tried to push anti-discrimination measures in the Legislature as well. A bill called the Competitive Workforce Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s list of groups that cannot be discriminated against. It has been proposed for several years in the Legislature, and continue to pick up more co-sponsors and support from the business community, but has failed to get through various committees and on to the floor for a final vote.
Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with FloridaPolitics.com. He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.

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