Ron DeSantis says he won’t tolerate LGBTQ discrimination, doesn’t need ‘piece of paper’ to prove it
Orange County Sheriff John Mina explains, to First Lady Casey DeSantis and Gov. Ron DeSantis, how police broke into Pulse the morning of June 12, 2016.

Casey DeSantis, Ron DeSantis and John Mina at Pulse
He did commit to study need for protections with state contractors.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said his administration won’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I can tell you, my office, we do merit only,” DeSantis said, “and I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me to do that. It’s in my best interest to do that.”

The Republican Governor made the comments in Bonita Springs a day after visiting the Pulse Memorial on the third anniversary of a mass shooting in Orlando.

The Governor’s Office this week dealt with some public outcry after initially releasing a proclamation remembering Pulse that failed to mention mostly LGBTQ people died in the attack on the gay club.

But DeSantis, pegging the oversight on an unnamed staffer, issued a corrected proclamation stating Florida “will not tolerate hatred toward the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.”

The Pulse attack occurred on Latin night, and most of the 49 killed in the attack were Hispanic.

Orlando lawmakers acknowledged the shift. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat and out lawmaker, said the moment offered an opportunity to move Florida forward on stopping discrimination.

“If Gov. DeSantis is going to have a legacy on LGBTQ rights, it started just right now. It started here,” Smith told the Orlando Sentinel.

Equality Florida since Pulse occurred has aggressively pushed for an executive order prohibiting workforce discrimination against LGBTQ Floridians.

Gov. Rick Scott never issued such an order. The Legislature this year took no action on multiple pieces of legislation offering workforce and other protections.

Some had hoped DeSantis might use the anniversary as a chance to issue an order.

The Governor stressed Thursday, however, that he doesn’t see the need for an executive order prohibiting discrimination in his office.

But he said he was willing to explore the need when it came to state contracts to outside employers.

“I’ll look at the contractors and see what the issue of that is,” he said.

DeSantis did reiterate his support for budgeting $500,000 for a Pulse memorial. And he said it was important to visit the site on Wednesday so the loss does not get banished to history.

“We live in such a fast-paced society,” he said, that “people forget about things when they happen.

“ … I thought it was important to send the message we have not forgotten the damage, not just to the LGBT community but also to Orlando, Central Florida … You had a lot of people with a lot to offer our state. We’ve been robbed of that.”

Jacob Ogles

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 [email protected]

One comment

  • John Randolph

    June 15, 2019 at 2:58 am

    Since Gender Dysphoria is a bonafide psychological condition, according to medical science – it’s hard to understand why anyone would agree to treat a transgender the same as a psychologically healthy individual. It’s anti-science to say that GD doesn’t exist and that science supports the idea of a gender identity different from one’s biology. There’s simply no evidence to support that concept.

    The fact is that there should be no “T” in LGB because gender identity has nothing to do with sexual preference. DeSantis is right to speak out against discrimination against LGB people, but that’s as far as the acronym should go.

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