PRESS RELEASE: Equality Florida Challenges Rick Scott's Broken Promise on LGBT Protections
Equality Florida Challenges Rick Scott's Broken Promise on LGBT Protections
Seeks Rule To End Discrimination in State Employment
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Equality Florida has filed a petition to compel the Governor Rick Scott administration to establish the LGBT protections that the Governor’s staff committed to but has failed to enact for more than two years. Now, time is running out for Governor Scott to keep his promise to end anti-LGBT discrimination in state employment.
In the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Governor Scott sent his staff to meet face to face with Equality Florida leaders. The Governor’s Chief of Staff made a commitment to swift action on an Executive Order protecting LGBT state workers and contractors from discrimination - a step the Governor could take unilaterally, without awaiting legislative approval. After year of delays and excuses, Governor Scott made clear he was not going to honor that promise. Under pressure from the media, he began to assert that an Executive Order was unnecessary because existing federal protections were sufficient.
“Governor Scott broke his promise, and when he was caught not telling the truth, he suddenly claimed the Executive Order he committed to wasn’t necessary. If he really believes those protections exist, he should have no problem showing everyone the written guidelines he has provided staff to ensure compliance. That is why we have filed this administrative petition. No more vague words. We want a clear policy,” said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida.
Equality Florida filed the Petition for Rulemaking with the Department of Management Services, requesting a rule that prohibits discrimination against state workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Petition for Rulemaking is based on the Department’s responsibility to develop uniform personnel rules for state workers and its authority to adopt rules to recruit and maintain an effective workforce, including policies for employee hiring and advancement.
Governor Rick Scott’s administration now must respond within 30 days from the filing date with a final answer on whether it will protect state workers.
Scott has taken heat for refusing to honor his promise from across the political spectrum. Nearly 80% of self-identified conservative Florida voters say Governor Scott should keep his promise on the Executive Order, according to a University of Florida poll.*
Governor Scott has refused invitations to meet with state employees and with Pulse survivors on the importance of establishing that discrimination has no place in state government. Without the rule Equality Florida is seeking, no Florida law specifically bars the state from firing or refusing to hire LGBT employees.
“Rick Scott abandoned the LGBTQ community after Pulse, and so far he has abandoned LGBTQ state workers as well,” said Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse massacre. “He could have made policy change. He didn’t. We ask LGBTQ Floridians to serve our state day in and day out, while the Rick Scott administration refuses to serve them.”
*University of Florida, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, “Strong Conservative Support For Governor Scott To Keep His Promise To Protect LGBT State Workers And Contractors” (May 2, 2018) available at https://www.bebr.ufl.edu/survey/articles/strong-conservative-support-go….