Multiple bills could threaten LGBTQ protections

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day that is all about celebrating equality, Florida’s LGBTQ community feels like it is under fire from state lawmakers.

Four pending bills could abolish local right to work ordinances, override bans on conversion therapy and more, according to Equality Florida.

John Harris Maurer, with Equality Florida, said the bills could set back advances made at the local level.

“These are either open and hostile attacks on the LGBTQ community or that our local protections are collateral damage,” Maurer said.

Only one of the four bills directly targets transgender minors. It would make it a felony for doctors to operate on genitals or perform a mastectomy if it’s for the purpose of a sex change. Others could overturn local conversion therapy bans, or allow it at home-based businesses.

State Rep. Bob Rommel is under fire for repealing local employment ordinances, but he said targeting the LGBTQ community is not his intent.

“This has nothing to do with anti-discrimination at all,” Rommel said.

But Equality Florida said it believes there are unintended consequences that could lead to the repeal of about 20 local anti-discrimination ordinances.

“What we are really focused on here is the impact of the bills, not the intent,” Maurer said.

But Rommel said that’s not the case.

“The bill doesn’t do that and they are wrong,” Rommel said.

The lone statewide-elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, said lawmakers have better things to do than wave read meat in an election year.

“It is 2020. There are so many issues that are impacting our state, whether it’s our environment or our health care,” Fried said.

While there is debate about the actual intent of the legislation, lawmakers have refused to enact statewide LGBTQ hiring and housing protections for the last decade.

One of three openly gay state lawmakers tweeted the legislation was like being kicked in the gut by his colleagues. The tweet has since been deleted, but not before being retweeted by presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.