Scott’s policy excludes gays
Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 16:01
Just following the start of the new year our recently elected governor, Rick Scott, was officially sworn into office.
Shortly after his inauguration as Florida's 45th governor on Jan. 4, Scott signed several executive orders on topics such as ethics and immigration.
Although it's nice to see a productive politician, one of Scott's newly signed executive orders doesn't sit so well with us.
Executive Order 11-04 targets non-discrimination in the pay or employment of state employees.
"It shall be the policy of my administration to prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, gender, creed, color, or national origin, and to ensure equal opportunity for all individuals currently employed in, and individuals seeking employment in, my administration," Scott wrote in the order.
Notice anything missing?
The order fails to grant protection based on sexual orientation and identity, handicap, marital status, age and pregnancy.
This law does not trump the Florida Civil Rights Act, but it is expected that each newly inaugurated governor sign a non-discrimination policy to set the tone for their administration.
Just because he may not support the actions of certain groups of people, specifically homosexuals, doesn't mean he should bar them from serving in his administration.
In fact, to exclude so many groups nearly negates the whole concept of a non-discrimination policy.
These individuals may live an alternative lifestyle, but that doesn't make them any less capable of serving our government.
It wouldn't be totally fair if we didn't point out that it's not just Scott's administration that refuses to recognize the needs of certain groups, the scope of the FCRA doesn't expand much further than that of Scott's non-discrimination policy.
The FCRA includes all the groups mentioned in Scott's executive order, as well as marital status and handicap.
The Palm Beach Human Rights Council pleaded Scott to include sexual orientation and expression to his policy but clearly Scott fell short. They've also been fighting for the same additions to the FCRA but again these demands were not met.
It's time for the state to grant rights to so many deserving individuals.
An article published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 2008 references a poll taken around the time residents were voting on Amendment 2.
Although the passing of the amendment added a ban on gay marriage to the state's constitution, the poll showed that 89 percent of Floridians still believe that lesbians and homosexuals should have the same rights as the rest of the public in terms of housing, job opportunities and public accommodations.
There is no reason for this lack of an all-inclusive discrimination policy for both the state as a whole and Scott's administration.
On a related note, we are glad our university has a much more favorable policy of diversity.
"Becoming more inclusive and diverse is so important to me, professionally and personally, that I made it one of the university's five goals when I came to UCF in 1992," UCF President John Hitt wrote in a newsletter for staff and faculty.
It was only last semester that the Board of Trustees voted and decided to add gender identity and gender expression to the university's non-discrimination policy.
Although it would have been nice to see this addition sooner, we couldn't be more proud that the day has finally come.
We really hope our state government adopts ideals like that of our university and President Hitt.
It's simply intolerable that in this day and age we are still forced to beg for the rights of various groups of deserving people.