By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 21 2010 3:05 PM ET
The Miami Beach, Fla., Human Rights Commission has voted to update its human relations ordinance to include language protecting transgender residents from discrimination.
Violators of the antidiscrimination law could face a penalty of up to $15,000 for each offense, according to TheMiami Herald.
Attorney and former commissioner Victor Diaz Jr. said in a hearing last week that the measure comes as reaction to Amendment 2, a far-reaching gay marriage ban that was passed statewide in 2008. He said the law could weaken equal rights across the state.
"This is about being again at the forefront, at the cutting edge of these issues," Diaz said. "So when people say, 'Gee, where should I live? Where do I feel safest? Where do I feel I can express myself and raise children and love my partner and contribute to my community without any fear of discrimination?' they say Miami Beach."
Miami-Dade County currently has a law to protect gays and lesbians against discrimination, but the proposed legislation in Miami Beach includes transgender citizens.
"Miami Beach is the starting point for all progressive legislation in the state, bar none,'' said Robert Rosenwald, from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, who assisted in writing the ordinance. "Where Miami Beach goes first, we hope the state will follow. So it is absolutely essential that Miami Beach's ordinance be clear, and that it have terminology that is currently appropriate and that it have teeth. This ordinance accomplishes all of those things."