EQUALITY FLORIDA WINNING EQUALITY
WHO WE ARE
Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Through lobbying, grassroots organizing, education, and coalition building, we are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Equality Florida formed in 1997 following the lopsided passage of a state law that banned the recognition of marriages for same sex couples. Our first commitment was to defeat all future anti-LGBT legislation filed in Tallahassee, and for 17 years in a row we have kept that promise despite repeated efforts by the legislature to roll back our progress. Under our watch Florida’s adoption ban has been repealed, we have passed a statewide anti-bullying law, Florida’s marriage ban has been ruled unconstitutional pending appeal, and over 135 local safe schools, anti-discrimination, and domestic partnership policies have been passed.
HOW WE’RE WINNING EQUALITY Equality Florida has always existed in a challenging political climate, and we know how to build bipartisan coalitions and carve out victories despite strong opposition.
Children and Families to immediately end enforcement of the ban and not pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court once the ban was ruled unconstitutional on September 22, 2010.
In addition to our work in Tallahassee, we work with our local partners, providing resources and helping to build coalitions that have passed pro-equality laws across the state.
Under our watch, Florida has led the southeastern United States in passing over 135 local policies outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, banning harassment of LGBT students, and providing domestic partnership benefits to our families. We also lead the region in electing LGBT candidates, with 31 openly LGBT officials holding elected office in Florida as of August, 2014.
We defend against bad bills and introduce pro-LGBT legislation every single year. Our efforts continue to expand support for our issues across party lines. For 8 years, we led a broad-based coalition that secured the 2008 passage of the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, an anti-bullying law that has resulted in protections from anti-LGBT bullying and harassment for students all across the state. Equality Florida played a critical role in bringing an end to Florida’s 33-year-old anti-gay adoption ban. In addition to years of public education on the harm caused by the ban, we successfully lobbied the Governor and the Department of
Through our continuous public education campaigns, we are winning the battle of public opinion with a strong majority of Floridians now supporting every one of our pro-equality issues including marriage equality. We invite you to take a look at the following pages of Winning Equality and see how prominently Florida stands on the national stage of LGBT equality. Your support makes every one of these victories possible.
RECENT Accomplishments 2014: (As of August 2014) • Equality Florida and six plaintiff filed suit against Florida’s ban on same sex marriage. In July, a Miami Dade judge ruled the ban unconstitutional. The decision is awaiting appeal. • Gained 10 Republican co-sponsors, an unprecedented level of bipartisan support, for the Florida Competitive Workforce Act which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to Florida’s non-discrimination code. • 13 new local policies passed in the first 8 months of the year including Gender Identity protections in Orlando, Domestic Partner benefits in Pembroke Pines, and a Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) in Atlantic Beach, the first in Northeast Florida. • Launched the Statewide Transgender Training Initiative aimed at providing businesses, schools and community organizations with greater knowledge about the transgender community and the benefits of transgender inclusion. • Expanded our Equality Means Business advisory board to 26 of Florida largest employers including Winn Dixie, Florida Blue, Wells Fargo, Jet Blue, Citi, Morgan Stanley, CSX, Celebrity Cruises, Tropicana, PNC Bank and many others. We are building a national model for partnering with major corporations to insist on LGBT inclusive nondiscrimination laws.
2013: • Worked with local coalition partners to pass domestic partnership registries in the city of Tavares, Leon County and Pinellas County. • Passed the statewide domestic partnership bill, Families First, out of the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs with a bipartisan vote.
• Worked with Hillsborough County Commission to repeal the 8 year ban on gay pride. • Participated in a coalition to pass a tax equity policy for City of Miami Beach employees.
• Helped lead a successful Broward-based coalition effort to add gender identity and expression to the Broward County School’s non-discrimination policy.
• Blocked a bill that would have invalidated local pro-LGBT policies, continuing our 16 year streak of defeating bad bills.
• Provided critical support to our local partners in the successful effort to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Volusia County Human Rights Ordinance.
• Worked with local partners to pass domestic partnership registries in Sarasota, Orange County, Volusia County, Gulfport, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa. • Played a leadership role in passing an antidiscrimination ordinance in Venice. • Led a successful effort to pass a school districtwide non-discrimination policy in Orange County. • Conducted massive voter education and GOTV programs to our nearly 200,000 members in the 2012 elections. A record number of pro-equality candidates were elected including Florida’s first two openly gay state legislators - Representatives Joe Saunders and David Richardson.
2011: • Participated in successful efforts to pass domestic partnership registries in Orange County, Orlando, St. Cloud, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami Shores. • Helped lead the successful effort to create an LGBT inclusive anti-bullying policy in Volusia County schools and add protections based on gender identity for Miami Dade County Schools, the 4th largest school district in the country.
• Equality Florida played a critical role in bringing an end to Florida’s 33-year-old anti-gay adoption ban. In addition to years of public education on the harm caused by the ban, we successfully lobbied the Governor and the Department of Children and Families to immediately end enforcement of the ban and not pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court once the ban was ruled unconstitutional on September 22, 2010. • Equality Florida Action Network played a major role in electing Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, the first out gay mayor of a North Florida city. The election’s razor-thin margin, 42 votes, meant that our fundraising, staffing and volunteer organizing efforts were critical. • Spearheaded a successful effort to add domestic partnership benefits in the City of Kissimmee. • Helped lead a coalition effort to pass a human rights ordinance in Leon County that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The county is home to our state capital, Tallahassee. • Launched Equality Means Business, a project aimed at spotlighting and increasing the number of Florida employers with LGBT inclusive antidiscrimination policies. • Led a successful effort to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Hillsborough County School District’s nondiscrimination policy. We also added gender identity to Tampa’s human rights ordinance.
Equality Florida formed in 1997 out of a successful effort to stop anti-LGBT extremists in their attempt to repeal Tampaâ€™s sexual orientation-inclusive human rights ordinance. This map demonstrates the local policies that were in place prior to Equality Floridaâ€™s existence.
Pro-LGBT policies as of Equality Florida's founding in January 1997
Equality Florida leads grassroots efforts and we support those of our local partners in cities and counties across Florida to win protections for our community and to defeat anti-gay initiatives. We measure the effectiveness of everything we do by whether it strengthens local organizing. Here is a sample of local successes in Florida:
Pro-LGBT policies as of August 2014 with more victories coming each month. Atlantic Beach
City of West Palm Beach
Transgender inclusive healthcare for city employees
Due to the high number of pro-equality policies at the local level, individual city policies are not listed where countywide protections exist.
City of Miami North /South Miami
STOPPING HATE VIOLENCE
PROTECTING LGBT STUDENTS
Florida has passed 28 city and county ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.
Florida law provides increased penalties for hate crimes based on sexual orientation and has been interpreted to include hate crimes targeting the transgender community as well.*
Florida protects more students from anti-LGBT bullying than any other state except California and New York. Eighteen Florida school districts ban harassment and bullying based on sexual orientation and fourteen also ban bullying based on gender identity and expression.
are protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Florida ranks 4th in the nation, behind California, New York and Illinois, in the number of people protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Number of Floridians protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation
protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Florida ranks 6th in the nation, behind California, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and 6,495,783 Washington, in the number of people protected from discrimination BEFORE TODAY EQFL based on gender identity and Number of Floridians protected from discrimination based on sexual expression. orientation and gender identity
During 2009, Equality Florida worked to ensure that a majority of Floridaâ€™s representatives in Congress voted to pass the Matthew Shepard / James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act - the first federal protections for the LGBT community. Florida ranks 4th in the nation, behind California, New York and Texas, in the number of people protected by state hate crimes laws. *Adding explicit protections for gender identity and expression to our state hate crimes statute continues to be a priority.
are protected from bullying based on sexual orientation. Florida ranks 4th in the nation, behind California, New York and Illinois, in the number of students protected.
312,128 BEFORE EQFL
Number of Florida students protected based on sexual orientation
are protected from bullying based on gender identity and expression. Florida ranks 5th in the nation, behind California, New York, Illinois, and North Carolina, in the number of students protected.
0 BEFORE EQFL
Number of Florida students protected based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Marriage equality is on the horizon in Florida. Equality Florida has joined as a plaintiff in a lawsuit based out of Miami Dade County. In the summer of 2014, four South Florida judges ruled in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. At the time of writing, each of those cases was issued a stay and awaits decision in higher court.
Equality Florida believes in social equality for all citizens, and as such, recently launched a transgender inclusion initiative which includes, corporate training, transgender resources and initiatives to support transgender awareness and inclusion. Our ongoing transgender equality initiatives include ensuring fully inclusive Human Rights Ordinances that include gender identity and expression protections, a statewide services resource guide, anti-bullying training for schools, transgender voter registration information and our ÂŤTransgender Dynamics In The WorkplaceÂť corporate workshops. Transgender inclusion is the next civil rights frontier and Equality Florida believes in taking action now to support our transgender community.
Equality Means Business
Equality Florida has launched Equality Means Business to highlight major Florida employers that understand diversity and LGBT inclusion are good for business. Through luncheons held around the state, these businesses have the opportunity to network with other like minded businesses and hear from speakers about improving the bottom line through inclusion.
DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP RIGHTS There are 37 Florida cities and counties that provide domestic partnership benefits either through DP registries or public employee benefit programs. These programs reach nearly half of all Floridians.
82,114 BEFORE EQFL
Number of Floridians with access to Domestic Partnerships
live in communities that provide access to domestic partnership benefits and/or protections through their city or county governments (and millions more have access through their employers). Florida ranks 3rd in the nation in the number of LGBT people living in communities that recognize domestic partnerships, behind California, and Illinois.
ELECTING PROEQUALITY CHAMPIONS Equality Florida Supporters 200,000 Pro-LGBT Voter File 350,000
Nearly everything we fight for depends on the election of fair-minded politicians. We have built the largest voter file ever assembled to mobilize the LGBT vote in Florida - over 350,000 pro-equality voters. Every election cycle, we screen thousands of candidates and distribute hundreds of thousands of voter guides to ensure our community and our allies are informed and turn out to vote. Additionally, Equality Florida Action PAC works to elect out LGBT candidates and politicians who champion LGBT equality. Number of LGBT elected officials in Florida - 31 , the most in the south and 6th highest in the nation. Data used in this report is current as of August 1, 2014
HISTORIC HIGHLIGHTS Some victories stand out above the rest. Here are of some of our proudest victories on behalf of Florida’s LGBT and allied community. ADOPTION
Equality Florida played a critical role in bringing an end to Florida’s 33-year-old anti-gay adoption ban. In addition to years of public education on the harm caused by the ban, we successfully lobbied the Governor and the Department of Children and Families to immediately end enforcement of the ban and not pursue an uncertain appeal to the Supreme Court once the ban was ruled “unconstitutional” on September 22, 2010.
Equality Florida has provided a voice for Florida’s LGBT community during legislative session in Tallahassee every year since our founding and we continue our 17-year streak of never allowing an anti-LGBT bill to pass the Florida Legislature and become law.
SAFE SCHOOLS Equality Florida’s ten year effort to make schools safe for LGBT students led to the 2008 passage of the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act. This anti-bullying law has resulted in protections from anti-LGBT bullying and harassment for millions of students across the state.
HATE CRIMES Equality Florida has worked with local and state law enforcement for 17 years to ensure anti-LGBT hate crimes are made visible and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In 2007, 24-year-old Ryan Skipper was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime. With the support of Ryan’s family and friends, we challenged unsubstantiated and irresponsible accusations by the Polk County Sheriff and we hosted memorial rallies in 13 Florida cities and Washington DC. Over 1,000 supporters came out to honor and remember Ryan and all victims of hate crimes.
ELECTIONS Our Equality Florida Action PAC has helped elect out LGBT and allied lawmakers since 2004. Today, we lead the southeast region in electing LGBT candidates, with 31 openly LGBT officials holding elected offices in Florida as of June 2013.
LOCAL SUCCESS Under our watch, Florida has led the southeastern United States in passing over 131 local policies.
For more information, contact: Equality Florida email@example.com (813) 870-3735 PO Box 13184 St. Petersburg, FL 33733