Florida politicians introduce bills for LGBTI non-discrimination protections

Volunteers carry a 1.25-mile-long rainbow flag in Key West, Florida

Two Florida politicians introduced new bills protecting LGBTI people in the state from employment, housing, and public accommodation discrimination on Tuesday (22 January).

Senator Darryl Rouson and Representative Jennifer Webb, both Democrats, introduced the legislation in their respective chambers.

House Bill 485 and Senate Bill 430 seek to amend the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992  by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of identities protected from discrimination.

This legislation is also known as the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.

According to reports, both bills are expected to receive bipartisan support. Currently, Republicans have a majority in both the state senate and house of representatives.

What the bills say

As both bills state, the Florida Civil Rights Act aims to ‘secure for all individuals within the state freedom from discrimination’ due to various identities, beliefs, and more.

If these bills pass, sexual orientation and/or gender identity will be protected identities.

‘There has never been a stronger climate in Tallahassee for passage, and its bipartisan momentum is undeniable,’ Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Maurer said of the legislation.

Various companies, such as Disney and Wells Fargo, support the bills’ passage as well.

How the US fares with non-discrimination protections

The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) details the legislation of non-discrimination protections in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

For example, some have legislation explicitly protecting both sexual orientation and gender identity, while some interpret existing legislation that way. In other states, legislation only protects sexual orientation and in others still, legislation protects neither identity.

In employment and housing, 22 states have explicit legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

For public accommodations, 21 states have such legislations.

The non-discrimination policy for sexual orientation and gender identity with the most states (32) supporting it is for state employees.

See also

Small Kansas city passes law protecting LGBTI residents from discrimination

Which 15 US cities scored 0 on an LGBTI equality survey?

152 elected officials urge incoming Congress to prioritize LGBTI rights

Author: Anya Crittenton

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Black Gay Couples Face Highest Rate of Mortgage Discrimination: STUDY

Male gay couples, especially Black male gay couples, face the highest rate of mortgage discrimination, according to an analysis published in the University of Chicago Law Review.

The conclusions were based on empirical data disclosed under federal housing law.

The study is the first to demonstrate widespread discrimination across the United States based on perceived sexual orientation, sex and race in the mortgage lending process.

Our analysis of over five million mortgage applications reveals that any FHA loan application filed by same-sex male co-applicants is significantly less likely to be approved compared to the white heterosexual baseline (holding lending risk constant). The most likely explanation for this pattern is sexual orientation based discrimination — despite the fact that FHA loans are the only type of loan in which discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited.

The study found that country wide same-sex male couples were nearly 2.5 percent to 7.5 percent less likely to be approved for a mortgage than their heterosexual counterparts with all other factors being equal.

“The situation is worse for couples of color and interracial couples. Black male same-sex couples have a 7.5 percent less chance of being approved for a mortgage loan — the worst of any racial combination — while interracial couples with a Black male being the main applicant are next in line with 6.8 percent less of a chance of being approved. Interracial couples with a white man being the main applicant are 4.3 percent less likely to be approved. White male couples are the least affected: they are 2.5 percent less likely than straight couples to get approved,” reported the Gay City Times based on the findings in the study.

Ironically legalizing marriage equality led to a huge boom in same sex couples buying homes but as LAMDA Legal’s Camilla Taylor, told Bank Rate back in September, “there are still no explicit protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation on a federal level with respect to credit.” 

So even though lenders insured by the FHA are banned from considering perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity, the study suggest lenders still found ways around the rule because it can be difficult to prove discrimination and sometimes, for a variety of reasons, worthy cases are not pursued by the victims concluded the GCT.

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Court dismisses case of lesbian couple denied place at retirement home

Lesbian couple Mary and Bev

A US District Judge dismissed a lawsuit by a lesbian couple in St. Louis, Missouri on Wednesday (16 January).

Mary Walsh, 72, and Bev Nance, 68 sued the Friendship Village senior living community in July last year.

The pair have been together for nearly four decades and married in 2009.

They alleged the Friendship Village discriminated against them based on their same-sex relationship.

Marriage is ‘the union of one man and one woman, as marriage is understood in the Bible’, according to the Village.

They, therefore, launched a case, alleging discrimination based on sex under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Not protected

But, on Wednesday, Judge Jean Hamilton, wrote that the FHA only prohibits discrimination on the basis of ‘race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin’, according to the St Louis Post.

‘Under (the) circumstances, the Court finds the claims boil down to those of discrimination based on sexual orientation rather than sex alone,’ Hamilton’s decision read.

‘The Eighth Circuit has squarely held that “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals.”‘

But, previous district courts have ruled that sexual orientation discrimination comes under sex discrimination.

‘Very hurtful’

Walsh and Nance first applied to Friendship Village senior living community in July 2016. What’s more, the couple have friends who live in the community and love it.

Walsh said she asked on their first visit if it would be a problem for a same-sex couple to live there.

‘The discrimination they experienced was very hurtful’, one of the couple’s attorneys, Julie Wilensky, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

‘This is a very straightforward example of discrimination “because of sex”’ Wilesnky also said.

‘If Mary were a man married to Bev, instead of a woman married to Bev, Friendship Village would not have turned them away’.

The attorney told the St Louis Post-Dispatch the couple were considering next steps.

Author: Rik Glauert

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