A year ago Miami-Dade County commissioners withdrew a proposal which would have added gender identity and expression to the county's anti-discrimination law. At the time they said that was done in order to "allow more time" to educate the commission about transgender people.
The plan, which would have banned discrimination in housing, public accommodations and employment, could not gather enough votes at the committee level.
This morning commissioners gave unanimous preliminary approval to amending the human-rights ordinance by adding the phrases "gender identity" and "gender expression."
This update that we’re working on would ensure very basic protections for a very vulnerable part of our community that many take for granted.
--Charo Valero, SAVE
The vote this morning was momentous for what did not happen. Nobody showed up to speak against the amendment.
The commission voted 10-0 to advance the proposal. Three commissioners were absent from the vote (Lynda Bell, Xavier Sanchez, and Juan C. Zapata). Commissioner Bell cast the lone opposing vote when the amendment was first presented last year. Largely because of that dissent Bell was targeted by Miami-Dade democrats in her bid for reelection last month, which she lost. Her successor, Daniella Levine Cava, will be sworn in November 18.
Sponsors of last years' amendment Audrey Edmonson and Bruno Barreiro withdrew it after failing to get enough support in the Health & Human Services Committee. The make-up of that committee has not changed, but Chair Rebecca Sosa assigned the amendment this time to the Public Safety and Animal Services Committee...which contains the sponsors, Edmonson and Barreiro, as well as Sally Heyman, who has signed her name in support of the legislation. The fourth member of the committee is Esteban "Steve" Bovo. The committee will take up the amendment when it meets on November 12.
If all goes well the final vote on the amendment will be in December.
Equality Florida indicated that there would be a statewide push for similar protections.
We think it’s important that, as the state takes a look at it, for Miami-Dade to show some leadership.
--Stratton Pollitzer, Equality Florida
Miami Beach has already voted to provide transgender city employees with insurance that would cover transition-related health care.
Last year the Christian Family Coalition opposed the amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance. Anthony Verdugo of that organization called it "a solution in search of the problem," while the CFC attacked the proposal as a "bathroom bill." Verdugo also claimed that the amendment would "legalize discrimination," presumably against Christians who oppose treating transgender people equally.
Edmondson dismissed the "bathroom bill" criticism.
That was just a smoke screen. We’ve got at least 10 counties already in the state [with similar legislation], and no one’s having that problem.