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Florida Republican Makes Another Attempt at Pro-LGBT Rights Bill

Florida Republican Makes Another Attempt at Pro-LGBT Rights Bill

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Republican state representative Holly Raschien helped bridge the gap to file the employment nondiscrimination bill that has failed several times.

A Florida Republican legislator has filed a bill to extend workplace discrimination protection to LGBT employees throughout the state.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which Rep. Holly Raschein filed this week, will be heard during the 2015 legislative session. This bill was first introduced in 2009 and has made regular appearances before the Florida legislature each session since, but has consistently failed to pass.

"Passing the Competitive Workforce Act makes good sense economically and benefits employers and employees by offering a law that is consistent across the state," Raschein said in a statement, reports Saint Peters Blog.

The legislation would protect more than 536,000 Floridians, according to Equality Florida. Raschein was also the primary cosponsor for the bill last year, and she recruited about a dozen more Republican co-sponsors.

"Despite overwhelming public support and the passage of local equal rights ordinances throughout the state, there is no statewide law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida," Nadine Smith, the CEO of Equality Florida, said in a statement. "Most people are actually surprised to discover these protections don't exist because it seems like common sense."

Currently, 18 states and Washington D.C., offer employment nondiscrimination laws covering both sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project. Three states have employment nondiscrimination laws covering sexual orientation but not gender identity. Florida is one of 29 states that do not cover either of those characteristics in antidiscrimination law.

Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, which was created to pass the bill, includes Florida Blue, Marriott, Walt Disney Resorts, and Wells Fargo. Members of the coalition said they were pleased to see the bill reintroduced.

"The coalition is grateful to Rep. Raschien for her leadership as the primary bill sponsor in the House of Representatives," coalition spokeswoman Christina Johnson told Saint Peters Blog. "She understands the impact this has on the state's ability to attract the best and the brightest into our workforce, and we are here to see the measure passed in Florida as similar protections already exist in ... other states."

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