Entries from: Joe Saunders

Gay lawmaker launches effort to protect Florida’s workers

joereporter-300x223The Sunshine State’s LGBT community could win protection from workplace discrimination if a new bipartisan bill is approved in the state legislature.  Florida is one of the largest states in the country still lacking a statewide LGBT anti-discrimination law.

State Rep. Joe Saunders, a Democrat elected in November and one of Florida’s first openly gay legislators (along with Rep. David Richardson), introduced the Florida Competitive Workforce Act this week. The legislation would prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Saunders is sponsoring the bill in conjunction with Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D- SD 25) and Rep. Holly Raschein (R- HD 120). All three sponsors said instituting statewide workplace protections is not only the “right thing to do,” but also profitable for Florida businesses.

“The Florida Competitive Workforce Act will help improve the business climate here in Florida. A majority of Fortune 500 companies already protect all employees from discrimination, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it helps their bottom line,” said Raschein. “For any business to thrive, they must be able to recruit and retain a diverse group of top talent to their company. This bill would allow Florida to be more competitive in a modern market place.”

Saunders notes that many Florida communities have already passed local anti-discrimination ordinances, and the Florida Competitive Workforce Act will bring the entire state up to date.

“This bill is about ensuring employees are judged based on the work they do, not who they are or what their family looks like. It is time for Florida to catch up the private sector, and to its own municipalities that have already passed these protections on the local level,” he said.

Out Florida state rep. stands up for LGBT students and teachers

In a debate over an Orange County School Board proposal to protect LGBT students, teachers and staff from discrimination, newly elected Florida State Rep. Joe Saunders dismantles the fear tactics and outright lies of anti-gay activist John Stemberger.

After an eight-hour hearing, the school board voted 6 to 2 to add the protections. Last month Joe Saunders became one of Florida’s first two openly gay candidates elected to the state legislature.

Victory in Fla.: From no LGBT legislators to two or more

joereporterJoe Saunders is expected to win his race for the Florida House of Representatives tonight, joining David Richardson, who won a decisive primary for another State House seat in August.

They will become the first openly LGBT candidates elected to the Florida legislature, but the state’s voters could add a third out lawmaker tonight.  Gay Politics is also watching Ian Whitney’s race in Key West.

“These are groundbreaking and potentially very important victories in a state with no significant statewide laws protecting its LGBT citizens,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, which endorsed Richardson, Saunders and Whitney.

Saunders is one of the leading voices for progressive values in the state of Florida. For seven years, as a senior staff member at Equality Florida, he advocated across the state for policies that now protect millions of people from discrimination.

Saunders’ team called the race on the campaign’s Facebook page this evening.