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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 It was withdrawn from consideration in the Government Oversight and Accountability Committee.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 Both were indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.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 the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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