Could Florida buck the trend and pass pro-LGBT legislation?
Florida might be set to buck the Southern state’s trend and pass pro-LGBT legislation, it has emerged.
Currently, the Sunshine State is one of the largest not to have some sort of protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
However, Republican Rene Plasencia has introduced a bill to the statehouse that looks set to change that.
The legislation, which Mr Plasencia is optimistic will pass both Houses and be signed by Governor Rick Scott, aims to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and restaurants.
“To me, this is as important as any piece of legislation I will file this year,” the representative from Titusville said.
The bill has attracted 12 cosponsors, including three GOP members.
Currently, the Republicans control both Houses in Florida, with 79 members to the Democrats 41 in the House and 25 to 15 in the Senate.
Similar legislation has been introduced before but failed to get out of committee.
Mr Plasencia added that supporters of the bill wouldn’t exploit the Pulse Nightclub attack in order to get the bill passed.
Nadine Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Florida, said momentum was continuing to grow.
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“We’ve seen the business community start to consolidate behind the measure, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because of bottom-line competitiveness,” she said.
A number of cities in the state have already begun to introduce similar measures in local ordinances.
On Tuesday, Jacksonville passed a motion that prevents businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Recent polls have suggested that a majority of Floridians support the change in the law with a number surprised protections don’t already exist.
Although the bill is a positive step, socially conservative lawmakers have also signalled they will introduce anti-LGBT legislation this year.
Since the election of Donald Trump, a number of other states have used the opportunity as an excuse to roll back equality.
In Arkansas this week, homophobic State Senator Jason Rapert tried to get the state to petition Congress to introduce a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
President Trump also axed transgender protections just days after claiming to support LGBT rights.