Over the past year, we have seen unprecedent support, both in the business community and in Tallahassee, to pass a statewide bill ending LGBT discrimination in the Sunshine State. Equality Florida has been at the forefront of this fight for years, and we're very excited about the launch of the new campaign: Florida Competes.
We have worked with partners in Florida - and nationwide - to help build a coalition of Florida's top employers who are committed to ending LGBT discrimination. Now, the campaign Florida Competes gives individuals the chance to learn more about the Florida Competitive Workforce Act - a statewide bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression - and different ways to take action.
Read the full press statement from Florida Competes, below.
Campaign Launch Press Statement:
(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Seizing on growing public support, a broad coalition of top Florida employers today unveiled a grassroots campaign aimed at updating Florida's anti-discrimination statute. Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce was formed to support passage of The Florida Competitive Workforce Act. It is bipartisan legislation that promotes fairness and modernizes state law by adding protections for gay and transgender people in the state’s existing anti-discrimination law.
With the legislative session on the horizon, the coalition's new campaign called Florida Competes will deploy organizers and volunteers to reach supporters in legislative districts across the state. The campaign also includes a robust digital component that features a website (www.FLCompetes.org), where Floridians can learn more and get involved.
“While the coalition is engaging major Florida employers and building momentum within the business community, Florida Competes offers individuals an avenue to participate,” said the coalition’s campaign manager Ashley Walker. “There will be a number of ways people can support the Competitive Workforce Act, including signing our online petition and by contributing their time and resources to this anti-discrimination measure. We want Florida to draw high paying jobs and top talent. Passage of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act sends the message that we are ready for business, and we do not discriminate in our state."
With the Dec. 2 passage of an ordinance by the Miami-Dade County Commission, 28 municipalities that represent more than half of Florida’s population now enjoy anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people. Coalition members believe all Floridians should have these protections. State law makes it illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, but there are no statewide protections in place for people based on sexual orientation and gender identification and expression. For this reason, top employers are backing the Competitive Workforce Act, which will give the state a competitive advantage in today’s evolving marketplace.
Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce is a coalition made up of 21 major Florida employers, including: AmericanAirlines Arena, Bilzin Sumberg, C1Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, CSX, Darden, Florida Blue, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Haskell, HSN, Marriott, Miami HEAT, NextEra Energy, On Top of the World Communities, Raymond James, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Tech Data, University of North Florida, Walt Disney World Resorts, Wells Fargo and Winn Dixie.
The coalition is led by Patrick Geraghty, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Florida Blue in Jacksonville; John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and Worldwide CIO of Tech Data Corporation in Clearwater; and Philip Dinkins, Senior Vice President of Cassidy Turley in Tampa. They serve as president, secretary and treasurer of Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce, respectively.