GLBT advocates step up focus on Florida Capitol

January 7, 2014

Written by John Kennedy

More than a year after the election of Florida’s first openly gay legislators, advocates for the state’s gay and lesbian community are stepping up their focus on the Capitol, advancing a compact but potentially groundbreaking agenda.

The movement had its origins in October, when the advocacy group, Equality Florida, began exchanging ideas with voters, holding its first legislative town hall in the Broward County city of Wilton Manors.

House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale was among eight lawmakers – all Democrats – who attended, said Mallory Garner-Wells, policy director for Equality Florida.

But Garner-Wells said there are signs that measures sought by gay and lesbian voters are gaining some traction in a Republican-ruled Legislature, which has long ignored or been seen as downright hostile toward the community.

“I’ve been our lobbyist for seven years,” she said. “I’ve seen a sea change in the Florida Legislature in how legislators react to our interests. It’s really a reflection of the larger change that we have seen in our state.”

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