Florida Chambers Call for Federal LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Law, Urge Senators to Take Action

December 2, 2021 • 8:00 am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  December 2, 2021

Federal protections would strengthen Florida’s business climate

MIAMI — Today, Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Corporations throughout Florida released a letter urging Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to help keep the state economically competitive by working for bipartisan passage of comprehensive federal legislation to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. 

Early this year, the Florida Commission on Human Relations – the state’s civil rights enforcement agency – ruled that it will enforce LGBTQ protections in employment, housing, and public spaces consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v Clayton County and Florida civil rights law. Nevertheless, critical gaps in protections endure. Without a modernized federal nondiscrimination law, LGBTQ Floridians and visitors remain vulnerable to being denied healthcare, removed from a jury, denied credit or federally-funded services simply because of who they are.

“As the leaders of Chambers of Commerce and economic development corporations in Florida, we know that innovation and inclusion aren’t optional – they help businesses thrive and keep our state competitive for economic investment,” the letter said. 

“Florida is one of the nation’s top tourist destinations. We know that conventions, events, and leisure tourism are more competitive when it’s clear that everyone is welcome,” said Wendy Kallergis President and CEO at the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association. “A federal nondiscrimination law would provide uniform protections and help ensure that LGBTQ people can live, travel, and play free from discrimination.”

Research from the U.S. Foundation of Chambers shows that nondiscrimination laws boost productivity and reduce employee turnover, and companies that embrace LGBTQ inclusion attract the best talent. 

“Our economy suffers when all employees, customers, and visitors don’t feel safe and welcome in Florida,” said South Tampa Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Flannery. “Including LGBTQ people in our nation’s nondiscrimination protections would deliver real value to local, state and national economies. A federal law would add to Florida’s competitiveness for corporate investment and tourism.”

Movement leaders say Congress now has a once in a generation opportunity to modernize federal civil rights law, to make explicit comprehensive LGBTQ federal protections, and to ensure federal law expands to include protections for all Americans from discrimination in the places we know it occurs today. 

Recent polling from PRRI finds that 82 percent of Americans favor laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing (including 67 percent of Republicans). 

The letter is the most recent effort by Florida business leaders in support of LGBTQ equality. In July, more than 20 major Florida businesses and employers released an open letter calling on Congress to support the passage of the Equality Act, a federal law being considered by the Senate that would modernize civil rights laws by including explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people. 

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