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ShawnJ

Equality Florida

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Gina Duncan, formerly Greg Pingston, is a transgender woman living in Orlando.  She is the director of an organization known as Equality Florida which is the largest civil rights organization that is fighting to ensure equal rights for people in the LGBT community.

Here in the state of Florida, it is still legal to fire someone or deny them housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  Duncan is part of a group dedicated to changing what should have been changed years ago.

She proposed to the Palm Bay City Council a new human rights ordinance that would guarantee freedom from discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation; something that has never been proposed before in this county.

 

Transgender individuals are certainly a minority group in Brevard County which has a large population of retired, white conservatives who tend to portray LGBT individuals as deviants.  Those in the LGBT community, however, have been struggling to get a foothold in the state of Florida for quite a long time.  Equality Florida is headquartered in Orlando which is a city that embraces diversity much more-so than Brevard county.   

I can equate the plight of LGBT individuals with scapegoat hypothesis.  People who are considered different whether in terms of race, social class, sexual orientation, or gender identity have long been used as scapegoats by people of power as well as regular citizens who look for excuses to discriminate against them.  This type of mindset breeds ignorance and hatred.  It is alarming to see that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is still perfectly legal when it comes to denying employment and housing.  Here in the 21st century, this type of discrimination should not exist anymore, especially in a legal capacity and one could almost equate it with a person being fired because they are a woman or denied employment because they are African American or Mexican American.  People in the state of Florida are protected from discrimination because of race and gender, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.  Again, this is alarming.

Many people, both in government and private citizens, may not openly discriminate but are still prejudiced toward people in the LGBT community which colors their actions and decisions.  This fits in with Merton’s Typology of Prejudice and Discrimination.  It is highly probable that individuals on any city council will allow their decisions to be effected by their personal biases.  While there are, mostly likely, unprejudiced nondiscriminators on the Palm Bay City Council, knowing this area as I do, I believe that they are outnumbered by prejudiced nondiscriminators who will continue to allow their professional decisions to be influenced by prejudice.  This is, any way you choose to look at it, discrimination, whether intentional or not.

This is an issue that should have been taken seriously long before now.  Gina Duncan is working extremely hard with Equality Florida with very high hopes that this issue will finally be taken seriously by the Florida government.  If the proposal succeeded it would have ensured equal employment and housing rights for all members of the LGBT community and hard-working people would no longer be in constant fear of either not being hired or losing their job if their sexual orientation were revealed or needlessly and harshly judged because they identify as a different sex than the sex they were born as.  The very fact that Ms. Duncan was allowed to speak before the city council and given audience to voice her concerns as she publicly fought for these rights is a step in the right direction and provides a beacon of hope for all citizens who have been faced with legal discrimination.  If this proposal were accepted, it would indeed have been groundbreaking and a milestone in Florida history.

 As I predicted, the proposal was rejected.  After a debate that lasted for over six hours, it was voted against by three council members as well as the mayor of the city of Palm Bay.  The mayor stated that he couldn’t come to a decision based on three weeks and twenty-five pages.  One can guess then that the mayor of Palm Bay has taken on the role of prejudiced nondiscriminator allowing his decisions to be colored by his own biases.  Or perhaps he is simply fearful that he would not be re-elected by the conservative majority had he voted for the proposal. 

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06_EmoticonsHDcom.png  Sometimes I despair over the human race, and how horrible they can be to each other when they don't even know the person they are discriminating against.   It's not ideal, but understandable, to dislike someone who has done something to you personally, but wholesale discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, religion etc. is beyond my comprehension.

 

33_EmoticonsHDcom.pngBut then you have the balance of the incredible individuals who put themselves heart and soul on the line to try and put these things right and see that there are a lot of wonderful people out there to give you hope.   We all need to do what we can as individuals and in concert to make this kind of human rights abuse a thing of the past.

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I know "baby steps" can be difficult to tolerate when we want action NOW, but I truly believe the pendulum has begun to swing the other way.  Ever since the marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court, I am hopeful that the equality movement is picking up steam.  I've seen great progress just in the last few years, and I think it will come faster and faster in the next few years.

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Well, lookie here!!  "Florida considers anti-discrimination bill for LGBT rights"

 

How 'bout dem apples???  That's the headline today on the front page of section 2 of the Orlando Sentinel!!!  Bottom of the page--but still  :lol:  :lol:

 

The article mentions that this is a momentous occasion because 1) it's Republican backed (?!!!!) and 2) it's the first time a Southern legislature has considered such a bill.  It gets it's first committee hearing today.

 

Regardless of the outcome, I am VERY encouraged that they are at least talking about it at the state level  cheering-clapping-smiley-emoticon.gif

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Hopefully, this will happen at the federal level. I was fired from the first job I ever had in college for being gay, in South Carolina. Luckily now, my boss is a gay man and I work for super liberal folks as pretty much a professional activist and LGBTQ right/liberal politics blogger. So, it does get better. You're right, though, it's insane that this can happen in 2016. Hopefully, the Equality Act becomes the rule of law in short order.

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Well, lookie here!!  "Florida considers anti-discrimination bill for LGBT rights"

 

How 'bout dem apples???  That's the headline today on the front page of section 2 of the Orlando Sentinel!!!  Bottom of the page--but still  :lol:  :lol:

 

The article mentions that this is a momentous occasion because 1) it's Republican backed (?!!!!) and 2) it's the first time a Southern legislature has considered such a bill.  It gets it's first committee hearing today.

 

Regardless of the outcome, I am VERY encouraged that they are at least talking about it at the state level  cheering-clapping-smiley-emoticon.gif

 

I can't believe a bill like that is GOP backed! That's awesome, maybe some of them are coming around. Of course the Dems will back it, because LGBTQ rights are now an official party position there. Hopefully, this will mean a win for Florida on that front. Harsh contrast to my home state of South Carolina, where the Attorney General and the Governor had to be threatened with contempt charges for refusing to marry gay couples, and in North Carolina, where when the ruling was first handed down, Franklin Graham and other gay hating preachers were literally protesting outside people's gay weddings.

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