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Florida Legislature kills LGBT discrimination ban

Sen. Joseph Abruzzo could not get enough signatures to save a bill against LGBT discrimination after a tie vote in the Senate judiciary committee. Abruzzo plans to reintroduce the bill next year. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

A ban on discrimination against the LGBT community failed in the Florida Legislature Tuesday. The bill, known as SB 120, was designed to add sexual orientation to Florida’s civil rights laws. 

After a 5-5 vote on Monday, bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Abruzzo had one more day to get other senators in the Senate Judiciary Committee to sign the bill. 

No other senators did.

The existing civil rights laws protect people based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap or marital status “to protect their interest in personal dignity, to make available to the state their full productive capacities, to secure the state against domestic strife and unrest, to preserve the public safety, health, and general welfare, and to promote the interests, rights and privileges of individuals within the state,” according to Florida statute.

This legislation came with the Florida Civil Act of 1992.

Major opposition to the bill came from concerns about male predators posing as women in order to gain access to female facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms. One of the senators opposed to the bill is Sen. Jeff Brandes, who feels that more discussion is needed about the bill.

“I understand where my constituency is on this issue, and I understand that we want a resolution,” Brandes said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. 

Abruzzo believes the change will come eventually, even if it isn’t right now.

“I think you see the movement changing and just as civil rights generally takes some time to move,” Abruzzo said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “Ultimately, this will not be an issue one day because this will be the law of the land in Florida.”

Abruzzo plans to reintroduce the bill next year. The effort this year came in part with support from companies like Tech Data. According to an article in the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Tech Data, Home Shopping Network and Carlton Fields have been in support of anti-discrimination legislation for the LGBT community since 2014. 

“We do come out disappointed by the progress, or lack of progress in the last week,” John Tonnison, Tech Data’s chief information officer, told the Times.