Marriage equality is the law of the land across the United States. However, in thirty-one states, employees can still be fired, simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. In Florida, local laws protect LGBT citizens from discrimination in sixty percent of the state. Without a statewide nondiscrimination law, the LGBT community has no guaranteed employment protections. This discussion continues in part 2 (LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Laws).
Brittany Link-Hayes of Equality Florida joins Robert Traynham to track the latest legislative developments out of her state, and nationwide.
Interview recorded on May 17, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham. Part 1 of 2.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: Florida and 30 other states lack nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ citizens. Brittany Link-Hayes of Equality Florida is tracking the latest legislative developments out of her state and joins me to discuss. Brittany, welcome to the program.
Link-Hayes: Thank you for having me.
Traynham: It is good to have you here. It´s my understanding that there was a proposed piece of legislation to protect LGBTQ individuals in Florida. That died in Committee. Why?
Link-Hayes: Well, that´s interesting. Actually, while, of course, we were, you know, disappointed that the bill did not come out of Committee, it was a monumental moment for us because it was the first time that bill had been heard in the Florida legislature. So we actually just wrapped up our 2017 legislative session, and that was really amazing. We have unprecedented support for our statewide bill. We have 71 co-sponsors for this legislation.
Traynham: So it sounds like it´s bipartisan.
Link-Hayes: Correct. A third of our 71 co-sponsors are Republicans, and, you know, that makes up 44%. Almost a majority of the legislative body in Florida endorses our bill.
Traynham: You know, Brittany, I think it´s important to remind the folks that are watching this program that you can get married on a Friday or Saturday, come to work on a Monday with a picture of your new spouse, you know, you´re a newlywed, and you can get a knock on your door and say “You´re fired,” and you´re fired because you´ve married someone that perhaps is non-like me, or non-like you, or whatever the case may be. So this is important because I think a lot of people simply do not realize that in 2017, you can be fired for being gay.
Link-Hayes: You´re absolutely correct, and people really are surprised to hear that, that, you know, today, you can be fired for being gay, or you can be kicked out of a restaurant for being transgender, and that is absolutely unacceptable, which is why it is a legislative priority of ours to pass these nondiscrimination protections.
Traynham: And, Brittany, we should also say, just a personal right of privilege, going to Florida a lot — You know, it´s a paradise state. There´s no doubt about it. It´s the Sunshine State, but it´s also a southern state. –
Link-Hayes: Correct. –
Traynham: And for this to be even considered in the Florida legislature I think is a significant milestone because of that. Am I not correct?
Link-Hayes: Oh, you are absolutely correct, yes, and this has taken decades of work, decades of visible, public education. We have built a coalition of business support, you know, businesses that have nondiscrimination protection policies in place and are saying, “Look, this isn´t just the right thing to do, but it´s absolutely the smart thing to do.” So along with that, our bipartisan coalition in the Florida Legislature and raising faith voices, you know, we are actually now poised to be the breakthrough state in the south and to actually pass LGBTQ protections.