South Florida Gay News is reporting that newly-inaugurated Florida Gov. Rick Scott is kicking off his term by issuing a narrow non-discrimination order for state employees. Executive Order 11-04 address only race, gender, creed, color and national origin and ignores the existing protections in the Florida Civil Rights Act, which prohibit discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.”
In anticipation of the order — which is customary amongst governors — the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council urged Scott to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination protections that went beyond current Florida law and included protections for “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.” But Scott fell short of the existing protections. “Governor Scott’s limited view of diversity is very discouraging,” Rand Hoch, President of the Council told the Miami Herald, setting a less than welcome tone from the new administration. The order does not negate the existing Florida law, but acts as a statement of administration policy and intent. “It’s a message to us that it’s not going to be a gay friendly administration in Tallahassee,” Hoch told me in a phone interview and suggested that Scott’s order sets the state back decades. The Act was last amended in 1992 to prohibit discrimination against marital status — a protection Scott did not include. Meanwhile, the Council has been urging the Florida government — including former Governor Charlie Christ — to add sexual orientation to the list of protected peoples.
Scott positioned himself as a social conservative during his election campaign, although he rarely addressed equality issues on the stump. He reiterating his support for the state’s now defunct anti-gay adoption law, saying he opposed to “single sex adoption” and insisting that “Children should be raised in a home with a married man and a woman.” His campaign website also says that marriage should be between one man and one woman. During his well publicized brawl with primary challenger and former Attorney General Bill McCollum, Scott attacked McCollum for endorsing the “pro-homosexual rights candidate Rudy Giuliani for president in 2008.″