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Darryl Rouson reintroduces LGBTQ anti-discrimination bill for 2020 Legislative Session

The same effort died early in the 2019 Legislative Session.

Sen. Darryl Rouson’s anti-discrimination bill has already received its first committee referrals.

The bill will head first to the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. From there it would head to the Judiciary Committee followed by the Rules Committee before heading to the full Senate.

The bill (SB 34) was assigned Friday.

Rouson filed an amendment to the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act” August 2.

It would add protection to already existing anti-discrimination laws for individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. It applies to privately owned and operated public lodging and public food service establishments.

Florida anti-discrimination laws already bar such establishments from discriminating on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, pregnancy, physical disability or national origin.

Rouson’s bill would not apply to private businesses denying service based on religious conviction. That would apply to situations like the now-famous cake baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The bill also defines gender identity as “appearance, or behavior, regardless of whether such gender related identity, appearance, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.”

It defines sexual orientation as “an individual’s heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality” but leaves out more modern sexual orientation descriptors more difficult to identify.

In addition to restaurants and hotels, the bill applies to any place that sells food for consumption on premise, gas stations, entertainment establishments, movie theaters, concert halls, sports arenas or stadiums.

The same bill filed last year (SB 438) never made it past its first committee assignment. It was withdrawn from consideration in the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee. An identical bill in the House (HB 1279) also died in its first committee stop. Both were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.

Both 2019 bills were filed by Republicans. Rouson is a Democrat.

Rouson’s bill this year does not yet have a companion in the House.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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