Michael Emanuel Rajner

Floridians: Why Aren't You in Tallahassee?

Filed By Michael Emanuel Rajner | March 10, 2013 7:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Chris Smith, David Richardson, DOMA, domestic partnership, Eleanor Sobel, ENDA, Equality Florida, Florida, Florida State Legislature, Joe Saunders, LGBT, Perry Thursday

florida-home-insurance.jpgWith the election of openly gay Florida State Representatives Joe Saunders (D - Orlando) and David Richardson (D - Miami), there has never been a more exciting time for LGBT advocates to make the long journey to the state's capital to lobby for pro-equality legislation. Florida's openly gay legislators serving proudly in the Florida State Legislature is a game changer.

On March 11 and 12, 2013, Equality Florida will be hosting their 2013 Lobby Days. Dozens of activists are expected to converge upon the Florida state capitol to fight for pro-equality legislation.

Below is a video message from Florida Senator Chris Smith, Senate Democratic Leader, inviting advocates to Tallahassee to participate in Equality Florida's 2013 Lobby Days.

More after the break.

Saunders has been leading the fight in the statehouse and sponsored the Florida Competitive Workforce Act. If successfully signed into law, this act would amend the state's civil rights act to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" for protections in housing, public accommodation and the workplace. Because of Saunders' leadership, for the first time in history, this legislation has bipartisan support in the Florida State House of Representatives.

While the rest of the United States is debating marriage equality, thanks to former Governor Charlie Crist's support for a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage, LGBT advocates are relegated to debating the virtues of establishing a statewide domestic partnership registry. Florida State Senator Eleanor Sobel (Dem) is leading that charge. As chair of the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elderly Affairs, Sobel has scheduled debate revisions to S-196 Families First.

On February 11, 2013, the committee first discussed the bill and then temporarily postponed the bill after Republicans balked. While they would support some form of domestic partnerships, they opposed granting gays and lesbians the rights that are equivalent to marriage in Florida. They cite the Marriage Protection Act.

On March 12, the Committee will continue debate, and if those same Republican senators have any sense of moral decency, they will support moving the bill out of committee.

I will be updating you on the outcome of Tuesday's hearing. In the meantime, below is another video message, this time from State Representative Perry Thursday, House Democratic Leader.

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