Yesterday, the Florida State Senate Rules Committee voted to move ahead on the so-called "pastor protection" bill making the rounds in Tallahassee.
The bill deflects attention towards an invented problem -- that LGBTQ people are "forcing" clergy to marry them -- rather than towards the problems that Floridians face every day. In one of the last hurdles to becoming law, the bill heads next to a vote before the full Florida Senate.
Let's be absolutely clear: pastors and clergy have always had the right to decide who their houses of worship will and won’t marry. The U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom makes that clear.
We thank Rules Committee Vice Chair Darren Soto, as well as his colleagues Senators Audrey Gibson and Bill Montford, for voting NO on this unnecessary distraction from the real issue at hand: the need for protections from discrimination for ALL Floridians.
With your help, we can make sure that pro-equality policies prevail before the Florida state legislature in the next session and beyond. Sign up to volunteer at a SAVE phone bank or canvass today. >>
Late yesterday, the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee voted to end consideration of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (FCWA). Although this is a missed opportunity to take what would have been a huge step towards the passage of statewide workplace equality, we are nonetheless very proud that we were able to secure a hearing for this bill at all.
With the FCWA introduced without being considered for the past ten years (!), yesterday's hearing was a long time coming. We'd like to give a special shoutout to Miami's own Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Chairman of the Florida State Senate Judiciary Committee, for meeting with leaders from the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition and SAVE and taking the historic step of putting this proposal to a vote for the first time ever.
We also thank Senator Diaz de la Portilla and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, Senators Jeremy Ring, Arthenia Joyner, David Simmons, and Darren Soto for voting YES to move the bill ahead. And of course, we thank Senator Joe Abruzzo of Palm Beach County and Representative Holly Raschein of South Dade and the Keys for sponsoring this proposal in their respective houses of the state legislature.
So, what's next?
Make no mistake -- the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition and SAVE will return next year to continue pushing lawmakers to pass the FCWA.
While we're disappointed at the result, yesterday's vote gives us hope for the future of employment discrimination protections in Florida. The vote failed because of a tie -- which means the Competitive Workforce Act is SO CLOSE to majority support in Tallahassee!
YOU can help make sure we come back to Tallahassee stronger than ever in 2017! Will you help SAVE take the voters' pro-equality message to Tallahassee next year? Help SAVE make sure our leaders hear us loud and clear by donating today. >>
With your help, we can make sure that pro-equality policies like the Florida Competitive Workforce prevail before the Florida state legislature the next time around. Help us come back to Tallahassee stronger than ever in 2017 by donating to SAVE today! >>
Thank you for your support!
Senator Travis Hutson Becomes Second Republican to Co-Introduce Florida’s Competitive Workforce Act in the Senate
Florida Senator Travis Hutson of Palm Coast today joined Florida Senator Jack Latvala of Clearwater in becoming the second GOP Senator to co-introduce the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, a bill aimed at protecting Florida’s LGBT community against discrimination in the workplace, public housing and accommodations. Senate Bill 120 by Sen. Joe Abruzzo of Boynton Beach and House Bill 45 by Rep. Holly Raschein of the Keys, if passed, would update the Civil Rights Act of 1992.
“Thank you to Sen. Travis Hutson for his leadership and support of this pro-business, anti-discrimination legislation,” said Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition Campaign Manager Patrick Slevin. “To have two Republican Senators, and nine GOP House members leading the effort to ensure Florida remains competitive in the global marketplace is very encouraging as we head into the second week of Session.”
"The LGBTQ community still lacks non-discrimination protections in employment, housing and public accommodations," added Tony Lima, Executive Director of SAVE, South Florida's top LGBTQ advocacy organization and a key member of the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition. "These fundamental areas of our lives, that many of us take for granted never having to fear being treated unfairly, are the corner stones of the freedom and opportunities that the American Dream lends to us."
“I have always been a vocal supporter of this pro-business issue and believe there is a fundamental flaw in a society that condones the firing of someone simply because they are LGBT,” said Sen. Hutson. “I am pleased to join Sen. Latvala and my colleagues in the House to co-sponsor this very important piece of legislation. While there are some concerns I have for others to sue unjustifiably, I am confident that will be addressed through the committee process.”
Republican members in the House signing onto HB 45 include Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen, Tom Goodson, Bill Hager, Chris Latvala, Mike Miller, Kathleen Peters, Ray Pilon and Rene Plasencia.
While it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, the gay and transgender community is currently left out of statewide non-discrimination protections. The Competitive Workforce Act aims to address this by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the law.
Click the graphic below to read more about our accomplishments in 2015!
Last Thursday, SAVE Foundation was proud to christen its new ‘Equality Network’ initiative to build a coalition of businesses in support of workplace equality in Florida. The LGBTQ group inaugurated the network at an event at FIU’s Frost Art Museum on Thursday featuring U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo and CEO Mike Valdes-Fauli of the marketing firm Pinta, among other noted attendees.
Emphasizing inclusion as a key business value, Rep. Curbelo, who represents suburban Miami-Dade County and recently joined the U.S. House LGBT Equality Caucus, spoke of the need not just for policy change, but for broader cultural change in order to create a more competitive business and labor environment in Florida.
“Sometimes we’re tempted to change a rule or check a box and say we’ve achieved diversity,” he told the gathering of business owners and local leaders. “But businesses that truly value inclusion -- they think a variety of points of view are a good thing, and they’re primed to compete in the economy of the future.”
The event, a SAVE Foundation initiative in partnership with the Miami Young Republicans, the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, inaugurated the organization’s new Equality Network of businesses in support of workplace equality and a more competitive economy for Florida.
“Businesses need to know that we can make Florida’s workforce more competitive for the future by striving for an equal workplace,” SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima told attendees, “and I’m proud that after today we will already count more than 30 members in the Equality Network.”
Mike Valdes-Fauli, CEO of the cross-cultural marketing firm Pinta, echoed that sentiment as a featured speaker alongside Curbelo. "I can tell you through my firsthand experience at Pinta and in the business world that equality as a business value is not only the right thing to do, but it's also great for your bottom line," he told attendees, "and so I urge all businesses that aim to compete in today's global and diverse economy to join important initiatives like SAVE's Equality Network."
SAVE Foundation invites all local businesses owners of South Florida to join the Equality Network. Those interested in joining are urged to email SAVE's Equality Network at email@example.com.
It's our displeasure to break the news that the Florida State House Civil Justice Subcommittee took the first step today in passing what some legislators are calling the "Pastor Protection" act.
SAVE wants to set the record straight -- this so-called "Pastor Protection" proposal under consideration serves to distract the public and bring out unfounded fears that churches might be sued for choosing not to marry same-sex couples.
Let's be absolutely clear: pastors and clergy have always had the right to decide who their houses of worship will and won’t marry.Read more
Looking to build on the recent momentum for LGBTQ equality over the past year, SAVE Action PAC announced today its endorsements in the November 3 elections for Miami Beach Mayor and Commission:
- Philip Levine for re-election as Mayor of Miami Beach
Among Mayor Levine's accomplishments for the LGBTQ community include working closely with SAVE in 2014 to pass an ordinance ensuring provision of insurance benefits for transgender employees of the City. He also worked during the summer of 2015 to pass a City of Miami Beach resolution urging the Florida legislature to pass the Competitive Workforce Act introduced in the State House.
The City’s has enjoyed a record-breaking performance on HRC’s municipal equality index under his watch, which has generated national headlines. For all of these reasons, SAVE Action PAC is proud to endorse his re-election bid.
- Scott Diffenderfer for Miami Beach Commission Group 4
Scott is a longtime resident of Miami Beach, and currently serves as the president of the Belle Isle Residents Association, where he works directly with city and county officials to solve real problems. He is openly gay and an active member of South Florida's LGBTQ community, with an extensive history of volunteerism on behalf of this and other causes.
Scott is a graduate of the Miami Beach Leadership Academy, served on the 2013 Charter Review Committee and served on an Evaluation Committee for Traffic Engineering Consulting Services in 2014. He was an original member of the Miami Beach Gay Business Development Council which established the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade. We are proud to endorse his run for the Miami Beach Commission.
- Ricky Arriola for Miami Beach Commission Group 5
Ricky Arriola is the Founder and CEO of Inktel Holdings Corp, a company headquartered in Miami and with offices throughout the United States. Ricky has taken an active role both locally and nationally in the areas of arts and culture; education and youth empowerment; business mentorship; and entrepreneurship.
Ricky was the Chairman of the Board of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). On issues of LGBTQ equality, he has promised to engage SAVE's new Hispanic Business Coalition initiative to promote equality as a business value in South Florida. He has also pledge to encourage other municipalities to support nondiscrimination and tax equity reimbursement resolutions. We are proud to endorse him for the Miami Beach Commission.
- John Elizabeth Aleman for Miami Beach Commission Group 6
John is a business professional and an active member of our community. Her corporate career was in information technology and she currently provides strategic technology consulting to her former employer, Ryder System, Inc., a Miami-based Fortune 500 company. John has been active in her children’s schools, including serving as President of the North Beach Elementary PTA, and is a strong supporter of public education. Her vision includes connecting to local PTA's to initiate parent-community dialogue surrounding issues for LGBT families. She has also pledged to donate her leftover campaign funds to LGBT youth homelessness initiatives.
John emphasized in her interview with our panelists that she envisions leveraging her experience in business, education and parenting on issues of harrassment and bullying of LGBTQ youth and adults. She mentioned strengthening access to healthcare for transgender city employees. Her nuanced and knowledgeable answers to questions on LGBTQ issues both on paper and in-person duly impressed our panelists. We are proud to endorse John for the Miami Beach Commission.
Please join SAVE Action PAC and #TeamEquality in supporting Mayor Levine in his re-election bid, as well as Scott, Ricky, and John Elizabeth in their bids for the City Commission! Your contribution of $50, $100, or $250 will go straight towards our grassroots effort to help elect these candidates. Click here to donate on behalf of SAVE Action PAC's #TeamEquality now. >>
"Each of these candidates was hand-picked by a panel of community members and allies and has a proven record in support of equality for all," said SAVE Executive Director Tony Lima. "Support for LGBTQ equality is a winning position, and I'm confident that by standing together with these great leaders we can score another victory for Miami Beach on November 3rd."
SAVE Action PAC is so proud to throw the LGBTQ community's support behind these great pro-equality candidates, but we'll need your help to make their pro-equality case to the voters of Miami Beach.
Your luck runs out on a NEW day this year, FRIDAY, October 30, for SAVE's 21st Halloween Ball, presented by Magic City Casino.
Join several hundred of the scariest and sexiest ghouls in South Florida for a night of free flowing cocktails, mesmerizing dance beats, sickening costumes, amazing performances and a killer Costume Contest (with over $1000 in cash and prizes) at the best Halloween party you'll ever attend.
And it all benefits SAVE's endeavors to promote, protect and defend equality for LGBTQ Floridians.
For such a worthy cause, who would be unlucky enough to miss out? Don't let your luck run out -- join us Friday, October 30 at Magic City Casino!