195 Congressional Democrats, including Senator Bill Nelson and eight members of Florida’s Democratic Congressional Delegation, have signed a letter that was sent this week to President Barack Obama. In the letter, the signatories urge the President to use his power to draft an executive order to pass a directive banning discrimination by federal contractors against LGBT people in the workplace. Similar legislation geared toward the private sector, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), passed a Senate vote but it was blocked from a vote in the House by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), in essence killing the bill’s chances of being cleared by Congress.
The letter said in part, “We are committed to doing all that we can in Congress to get ENDA to your desk this year; however, there is no reason you cannot immediately act by taking this important step. This executive order would provide LGBT people with another avenue in the federal government they could turn to if they were the victim of employment discrimination by a federal contractor. When combined with ENDA, these non-discrimination protections would parallel those that have been in place for decades on the basis of race, sex and religion.”
In addition to Senator Bill Nelson, Representatives Alan Grayson, Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch, Patrick Murphy, Lois Frankel, Frederica Wilson, and Joe Garcia all signed on to the letter delivered to the President. The only Democrats from Florida’s delegation missing from the letter were Representatives Corrine Brown and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (the current Democratic National Committee chair). No Republicans from the state of Florida or anywhere else in the country signed on to this letter.
I know I am happy to hear that there are lawmakers from our state that are standing up for all of their constituents, which of course includes the LGBT community. I reached out to our delegation and I received statements from four of our members.
Alcee L. Hastings represents Florida’s 20th District, which includes Broward, Palm Beach, Glades and Hendry Counties. He says, “As Congress continues to work towards the final passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the President has the power to take immediate action to strengthen basic employment protections. Across our nation, qualified, hardworking Americans are being denied job opportunities, harassed, fired, or otherwise discriminated against solely because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). I remain committed to protecting the equal rights of all Americans and ensuring that this critical legislation becomes law.”
Frederica S. Wilson represents Florida’s 24th District, which includes Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. She says, “It is unconscionable that hard-working Americans are fired, discriminated against, and denied opportunities simply because of who they love or how they express their gender. As a nation, we must make greater progress to end discrimination against our neighbors, friends, and family in the LGBT community. It is time to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It is time to send a clear message that the federal government will not do business with anyone who discriminates on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Intolerance creates suffering and hurts this nation’s economy. As a lifelong equal rights advocate, I view LGBT rights as a civil rights battle of our time. I remain committed to Florida’s LGBT community and will continue working to secure workplace protections for every American.”
Patrick E. Murphy represents Florida’s 18th District, which includes St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach Counties. He says, “All Americans should be free from discrimination. Whether it’s based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity – discrimination is unacceptable and hurts our entire society. Not only is it morally imperative that our federal government be a leader in banning such discrimination in the workplace, but there are tangible benefits for companies that adopt anti-discrimination protections. I am committed to continuing to fight for the equal rights of all Americans, building a brighter future for our nation.”
Lois Frankel represents Florida’s 22nd District, which includes Palm Beach and Broward Counties. She says, “The United States must be a land of opportunity for anyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Towards that end, I support the immediate passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”