(Human Rights Ordinance)

In much of Florida, LGBT people lived without basic civil rights protections, and lost their jobs, housing, or were refused service in public accommodations based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.  And across much of Florida, including here in Manatee County, that kind of discrimination remained perfectly legal.

That is, until February 3, 2021, when “Florida’s Commission on Human Relations announced its intention to fully implement the Bostock v. Clayton County decision on the state level,” according to a news release on that day by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

“This action means that Florida’s more than 772,000 LGBTQ residents will now be protected under state law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations,” continued HRC in the release.

HRC provided more details in the release:

On June 15th, 2020 in a landmark ruling in the consolidated cases of Bostock v. Clayton County, Altitude Express v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of prohibited sex discrimination. In July 2020, HRC spearheaded a letter along with other leading LGBTQ rights organizations to call on the Department of Justice to not delay the application of the law and fully enforce the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision. However, the Trump Justice Department failed to adequately instruct the federal government to implement the ruling, leading to dangerous misinterpretations like the one the Department of Education released last week and that was issued by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on Sunday.

On Wednesday, January 20th, 2021, President Joe Biden included the federal implementation of Bostock in a series of Day One Executive Orders that also included executive actions. Today, 22 states plus the District of Columbia have laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. State attorneys general and state civil or human rights commissions have also implemented the Bostock decision to state civil rights laws across the country—particularly in states that lack sexual orientation and gender identity laws, including in Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and now Florida. To learn more about state laws impacting the LGBTQ community please see the Human Rights Campaign’s State Equality Index.

The Manatee LGBTA Democratic Caucus was a leading sponsor of the Manatee HRO Committee, a non-partisan effort working to enact a human rights ordinance (HRO) that would provide basic civil rights anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations for all of Manatee County based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, or veteran status.