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Florida May Finally Protect LGBT Citizens From Discrimination Under Proposed Competitive Workforce Act

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Florida may finally grant the LBGT community statewide civil protections.

On Thursday, Reps. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) and Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) filed the Competitive Workforce Act, which updates the state's Civil Rights Act of 1992 to include protections against discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The 1992 act already bars discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, handicap, or marital status.

Yes, unbelievably, it's still perfectly legal to be fired or evicted for sexual orientation in this state, according to Mallory Wells of advocacy group Equality Florida, who notes most local governments have passed protection on their own.

Bill sponsor Saunders, one of only two openly gay legislators ever elected to the Florida legislature, told the Orlando Sentinel, "It is time for Florida to catch up with the majority of its largest cities and counties that have already created these protections."

Palm Beach County was the first county in the state to successfully grant anti-discriminatory rights for gays in housing in 1990, after a 1977 ban by Dade County was repealed after singer Anita Bryant's infamous Save Our Children campaign.

Broward County followed suit in 1995, and Miami-Dade County approved its current sexual anti-discrimination law in 1998.

An amendment to include LGBT protections in the original 1992 law failed to pass a subcommittee vote after legislators reportedly watched videos of naked revelers at a California gay pride parade, as reported by the Sun Sentinel.

"This bill is about promoting a basic idea of fairness: that all Floridians should be treated fairly and equally by the laws of our state," ACLU of Florida spokesperson Baylor Johnson remarked in a statement to HuffPost.

"Protecting Floridians from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is an expression of the values that our state’s Civil Rights Act of 1992 were passed to protect: that no one in our state should be denied a chance to have a job or a home just because of who they are.”

The bill also replaces the word "handicap" with "disability."

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