Thursday, January 22, 2009

Florida: Continuing Struggle for Rights for Gay Citizens

And as a follow-up to my last two postings about the need to continue keeping our eyes open to the religious right's anti-gay agenda and about the need to monitor the new administration's civil rights agenda: an article on today's 365Gay news site notes that, for the third year in a row, Rep. Kelly Skidmore of Boca Raton, Florida, has filed a bill in that state's legislature to assure protection of LGBT rights in the nation's fourth most populous state (

As Palm Beach County Human Rights Council President Rand Hoch notes,

Contrary to popular belief, in most parts of Florida it is still legal to fire someone solely because he is gay.

Only in a handful of communities in Florida do the state's numerous gay citizens have any legal protection against being fired solely because they are gay (or for cooked-up reasons which disguise the fact that sexual orientation was the reason for the firing). In only a select group of communities do the state's many gay citizens have any legal protection against discrimination in housing and other areas, solely because of their sexual orientation.

As Skidmore notes,

All Floridians should have the opportunity to earn a living and provide for their families without fear of being unfairly fired or denied housing for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance or their ability to maintain a home.

Given the size of Florida's population and the role it plays in the nation at large in setting trends and influencing the political direction of the country (by its electoral votes), it's important for members of the gay community and others concerned about human rights to keep an eye on this state. The situation most gay citizens of this country of gay citizens is far more like that of gay citizens of Florida than that of the few states in which gay rights are assured statewide.