Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tampa is the latest city in Florida to add “gender identity” to its human rights ordinance that bans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. Equality Florida,Florida’s statewide human rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, commends the Tampa City Council for expanding non-discrimination protections to those who live, work and visit the city.
Today’s action comes at the request of the Tampa Human Rights Council led by its Chair, Phil Dinkins. Equality Florida has worked closely with the council in the months leading up to today’s vote and assisted with documenting the clear need for such protections.
“Equality Florida was born out of the struggle to expand Tampa’s non-discrimination protections so they include the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Nadine Smith. “Today’s vote, while long overdue, makes it clear that Tampa is a leader in Florida when it comes to protecting its citizens.”
One extreme right organization launched an effort to derail today’s vote, but Equality Florida members and allied organizations including Pride Tampa Bay and the Hillsborough LGBT Democratic Caucus stepped up and sent 3,096 emails to various Tampa City Council members encouraging them to stand strong in their conviction to protect all citizens. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, BB&T Bank, PepsiCo/FritoLay and other leaders in the business community spoke out debunking wild claims by the opposition by recounting the positive impact inclusive policies have had for their companies.
Tampa is not alone in adding “gender identity and gender expression” to its non-discrimination ordinance. Many public and private entities offer expanded protections to their citizens and employees. In fact, including “gender identity and gender expression” has become standard practice the last decade.
Here in Florida, sixteen local government entities offer these protections in Florida, including several right here in Tampa Bay. Among them are: Broward County, Palm Beach County, Monroe County, Miami Beach, Gainesville, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Gulfport, Miami Beach, Key West, Largo, Tequesta, Wilton Manors, Dunedin, Orlando, and Oakland Park.
Nationally, 108 local city and county governments , 13 states and Washington, D.C. include “gender identity and gender expression” in their non-discrimination laws.