Floridians support ban on sexual orientation discrimination, UF poll finds

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Most Floridians support legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a new University of Florida poll. 

The poll, conducted by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service in collaboration with the UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research, found that 73 percent of respondents support the Competitive Workforce Act while 24 percent oppose it. 

Introduced by state Rep. Joe Saunders and state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, the legislation would update the state’s Civil Rights Act of 1992 to include protections against discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity. Five Republican representatives have since co-sponsored the legislation. 

While many Florida communities have passed strong local anti-discrimination policies, state law currently fails to protect Floridians against sexual orientation and gender identity workplace discrimination. 

In its current form, this legislation has been filed every year since 2007 but has never been given a workshop or hearing.  

“The new survey by the Bob Graham Center underlines the degree to which ordinary Floridians are strikingly sensitive and sympathetic to the needs of minority groups who have experienced discrimination,” said Kenneth Wald, distinguished professor of political science at UF.

The poll also asked respondents about their opinions regarding other issues being considered by the Legislature including whether to allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition (50 percent for and 45 percent against); require Internet retailers to pay state sales tax (53 percent for and 43 percent against); and close the state’s pension plan to new employees (45 percent support and 48 percent oppose). 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.