I nearly choked when I heard Florida Gov. Rick Scott say, “We don’t want anybody in our state to be discriminated against,” (CNN, 6/12/16), in response to the mass shooting in The Pulse, an Orlando LGBT nightclub. Given the horror of the massacre, he had to look like he meant that. But that’s the opposite of what he actually believes; and his actions reveal the lie in his words.
The truth is that Gov. Scott has fought to maintain discrimination against LGBT Floridians since being elected. He and his Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed to never allow same sex marriage and spent tens of thousands in taxpayer funds to fight all court decisions that upheld equality. Bondi so strongly supported LGBT discrimination that in 2014, she said marriage equality must never be allowed because “that would impose significant public harm.” That was both divisive and untrue.
Well, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for equality, and Scott/Bondi lost... resoundingly. But they clearly have not learned anything, since their campaign to discriminate against LGBT people lives on. Scott and Bondi are now balking at federal guidelines that protect the rights of transgender individuals -- saying they are “evaluating” if they should oppose those protections. How can Scott “evaluate” whether to protect citizens or not? He’s the governor -- and his #1 job is to protect citizens -- all of them!
Scott and Bondi are also ignoring a sobering reality, as the National Anti-Violence Program reports that violence against LGBT people has reached “an all-time high with a 19-percent annual increase in LGBT people murdered.” And, tragically, “40 percent of hate murders were against Transgender individuals.” We must not allow that to continue.
If Rick Scott doesn’t “want anybody to be discriminated against,” he should end his own efforts to discriminate. He and Bondi are on the wrong side of history, and the wrong side of equality; but they’re too busy pandering to the fringe to see that -- or even care.
Some argue war-designed assault weapons should not be in the hands of the public. That’s another debate. What’s clear is that LGBT Floridians will continue to be targets of discrimination, harrassment, violence and even murder; because Florida is run by those who (despite obligatory hypocritical platitudes after a massacre) continue to discriminate against LGBT people even today.
What can YOU do? Get everyone to register and vote! Politicians who argue that any group shouldn’t have equal rights, dignity and respect -- cannot be allowed to obtain (or remain in) public office. From the top down, their divisive tone gives credibility to unstable, angry people and steers them to be intolerant -- and even violent.
We must have leaders who oppose ALL forms of discrimination and inequality. And our votes are the only way that we can work to make Florida a place where EVERYONE is protected from discrimination, harrassment -- or worse.