2009 Legislative Session Wrap Up
It was another wild session up in the Tallahassee!
We began the session by introducing four pro-equality bills:
- a repeal of Florida’s adoption ban (SB 500, HB 413)
- a statewide civil rights bill that would make it illegal to fire someone because they are LGBT (SB 2012, HB 397)
- a statewide domestic partnership policy (SB 1642, HB 1067)
- a bill to repeal abstinence only education in public schools (SB 268, HB 19)
The highlight of this year’s session occurred on March 16, when over 700 people from around the state came to Tallahassee for the Rally in Tally for LGBT Equality. The Rally was the first of it’s kind in over 10 years. Stuart Milk, nephew to Harvey Milk and Florida resident, state legislators and LGBT grassroots leaders came together to rally the crowd. Afterward, hundreds of people lobbied their legislators on the need for pro-equality legislation.
The economic crisis made for an even tougher than usual year in Tallahassee. Many bills from both sides of the aisle were left by the wayside in order to balance the state’s budget.
Equality Florida and our allies worked relentlessly to push legislators to address the issues important to the LGBT community. When Commerce Committee Chair Senator Rudy Garcia declared the civil rights bill dead, our members sent over 2,000 e-mails and made hundreds of phone calls to his office in one afternoon and urge him to hear the bill. Your calls worked, he felt the pressure, but the clock ran out before the bill could be heard.
Over the course of the 2009 Legislative Session, we held over 300 lobby visits and gained a total 87 co-sponsors to our bills.
We will continue to work year around to make sure that next year was even better than this year. In the coming months we’ll be reaching out to you to help keep the pressure on lawmakers, so keep an eye out for how you can get involved!
View 2009 Legislative Co-sponsors of Pro-LGBT Bills in Florida
The harmful election bills (SB 956, HB 7149) that we alerted you two weeks ago,have been DEFEATED.
The House bill was pushed through the legislature by leadership in the final days of session. These bills would have dramatically limited the type of IDs that voters could use at the polls, thus reducing voter participation in already underrepresented communities.
The bills would also have restricted voter registration efforts, tied the hands of petition-gatherers (who have a constitutional right to petition their government), and put almost all power over elections in the hands of the Florida Secretary of State, an unelected political appointee. That's just the start of what this terrible bill would have done.
Equality Florida is proud to have worked with numerous other organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, the Florida ACLU and the AARP to defeat this bill.
April 29th was a banner day for the LGBT and allied community. The US House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act with a vote of 249-175. If passed, this bill would create the first federal protections for LGBT Americans by adding sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability to existing federal hate crimes law.
The floor debate was an emotional roller coaster with commentary ranging from toxic falsehoods attacking the bill to heroic, poignant, and inspirational appeals for the need to expand hate crimes legislation.
Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fl - 20) and Kathy Castor (Fl- 11) cosponsored the bill and both delivered passionate speeches from the floor in support for the passage of this important legislation.
Because of the nearly 3,000 contacts you made with your Representatives, we delivered in Florida (13-12).
We applaud and thank all of the members of the Florida delegation who voted in favor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act. Click here to see how each Florida Representative voted.
It now moves to the Senate and then to President Obama, who has made public his support. We'll keep you up to date as the legislation progresses.
Equality Begins with Fair Districts
Edward Kring Joins EQFL Staff as Fair Districts Coordinator
Dear EQFL Supporters,
I'm Edward Kring and I have the honor being selected by Equality Florida and the Equality Federation to serve as Statewide Coordinator for the “Equality Begins with Fair Districts” program.
We know that by holding current lawmakers accountable, and electing fair-minded candidates in the future, we will dramatically increase our ability to pass pro-LGBT legislation. We can only achieve those goals if we can take the extreme partisan politics out of redistricting.
We're proud to work with FairDistrictsFlorida.org and through our Equality Begins with Fair Districts program, we will launch an extensive outreach program centered on Pride celebrations around Florida. Our goal is to engage thousands of LGBT and allied voters in dialogue about how the current redistricting structure hurts almost everyone, including the LGBT community.
Here are a few things you might be interested to know about me:
- I served as FSU’s Campus Coordinator for the Vote No on 2 campaign.
- I was born in Havana, Cuba in 1984.
- My mother and I fled Fidel Castro’s communist regime by legally immigrating to the US in 1991.
- I lived in Miami, FL until the age of 16 when, after coming out to my mother, I was forced to leave my home. I then moved to Naples, FL and was raised by a family that provided me love and structure.
- I was SGA President at Edison College, founded their Gay-Straight Alliance, and went on to represent over 150,000 students in South Florida as District One Coordinator for the Florida Junior Community College Student Government Association (FJCCSGA).
My experience has taught me many lessons that I hope to share with others. I see this program as an essential tool towards safeguarding "Liberty and Justice for All," not just for the politically powerful.
Find out how you can help by emailing me at [email protected].
On April 30, EQFL Executive Director Nadine Smith was the guest speaker a a gathering of the Sarasota Suncoast Democrats, giving a state-of-the-state rundown on LGBT issues.
The conversation ranged from staying motivated at this critical time in the history of Florida LGBT politics, to the golden opportunities afforded by a supportive President and congressional leadership that advocates for nationwide change.
Nadine highlighted the importance of Florida's Congressional delegation and how our representatives' votes will be necessary for national victories. For example, the hate crimes bill passed with the Florida legislative delegation voting 13-12 for passage. Democrats, joined by a handful of fairminded Republicans made the difference after hearing form over 3,000 Equality Florida supporters.
The evening ended with a discussion about Equality Begins with Fair Districts, EQFL's effort to support fairly draw political districts instead of the ridiculous gerrymandering that allows politicians to essentially rig elections by handpicking their voters.
If you'd like an Equality Florida staff member to speak at your local event, please contact [email protected].
Congratulations to Harry Knox, former EQFL Development Director, on his recent appointment to the President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, an interfaith council of religious and secular leaders and scholars. The council will be comprised of 25 members, each appointed to serve a one-year term.
Currently, Harry serves as the HRC Foundation Religion and Faith Director.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order on February 5 to establish the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The office was created to allow religious and community leaders to make policy recommendations to the President’s Cabinet Secretaries and each of the eleven agency offices for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships.