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Democrats call on Marco Rubio, Rick Scott to support Equality Act

Legislation would extend protections for LGBTQ individuals.

Florida Democrats are calling on U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to support The Equality Act, which passed in the U.S. House Friday.

Juan Peñalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, described the House vote as “historic.”

The longtime progressive rights activist said as the legislation heads to the GOP-controlled Senate, Florida’s senators should embrace it.

“The Equality Act will ensure LGBTQ Americans have equal opportunity in the land of the free,” Peñalosa said.

“The next stop for the Equality Act is the U.S. Senate, and we are calling on our Florida Senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to support this historic legislation. It’s time that our Senators do the right thing and say yes to passing the Equality Act.”

In the House, every Democrat present voted in favor of the Equality Act. So did eight Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Mario-Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican and Rubio ally.

But the bill likely faces an uphill climb in the Senate, where Republicans increased their majority in November even as Democrats won the House.

Rubio has maintained his opposition to same-sex marriage.

He has also said certain businesses like caterers and wedding photographers should be allowed to deny service to gay couples.

The viewpoint appears to conflict directly with The Equality Act, which would extend the same protections enjoyed by racial and ethnic minorities to cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Scott, elected in November after eight years as Florida’s Governor, doesn’t have as established a history when it comes to LGBTQ rights.

But for years, he drew the ire from equality groups in the state after promising to extend workforce protections to LGBTQ individuals after the Pulse nightclub shooting.

In the following two years when he served as governor, he took no such action.

Regardless, President Donald Trump said he will veto the Equality Act if it lands on his desk in its current form.

The Florida Competitive Workforce Act, a state-level proposal for many of the same protections in the Equality Act, has failed to move in the Florida Legislature for more than a decade.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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