Here We ENDA Again

Equality Florida is asking legislators to not support a gay rights bill because it does not include gender identity protections.

Gay political organizations are clashing over the best way to pass GLBT-friendly anti-discrimination bills through the Florida Legislature. The head butting is taking on strategic tones similar to those that emerged last year in the fight over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the U.S. Congress.

Gay rights organizations are taking different stances on whether to support a two-pronged effort that sends separate anti-discrimination bills through the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. If passed, House Bill 191 sponsored by Kelly Skidmore (D-Boca Raton) would ban employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity and gender expression. Senate Bill 572, introduced by Ted Deutch (D-Delray Beach), bans discrimination based on sexual orientation only. Both bills are expected to go before the Florida Legislature during the spring session, which begins March 4.

There is little expectation that either bill will be successful in the conservative-dominated legislature. Last year, a similar bill that only included sexual orientation protections was not even read. Groups such as Equality Florida and the Palm Beach Human Rights Council have been active in seeking political support for the Skidmore bill. Equality Florida, however, a statewide GLBT political organization, has been lobbying legislators not to support the non-inclusive Senate bill.

“Our position is that we will not support a bill that leaves a portion of our community behind,” said Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of Equality Florida. “We believe in a fully inclusive bill.”

With neither Florida bill expected to become law (as with the federal version of ENDA), what can be gained by once again ditching transgenders? Have we learned nothing?