Floridians support ban on sexual orientation discrimination, UF poll finds

Published: April 18th, 2013

Category: Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most Floridians support legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a new University of Florida poll.

The poll, conducted by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service in collaboration with the UF Bureau of Economic and Business Research, found that 73 percent of respondents support the Competitive Workforce Act while 24 percent oppose it.

Introduced by state Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, and state Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, the legislation would update the state’s Civil Rights Act of 1992 to include protections against discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation and gender identity. Five Republican representatives have since co-sponsored the legislation.

While many Florida communities have passed strong local anti-discrimination policies, state law currently fails to protect Floridians against sexual orientation and gender identity workplace discrimination.

In its current form, this legislation has been filed every year since 2007 but has never been given a workshop or hearing.

“The new survey by the Bob Graham Center underlines the degree to which ordinary Floridians are strikingly sensitive and sympathetic to the needs of minority groups who have experienced discrimination,” said Kenneth D. Wald, distinguished professor of political science at UF.

The poll also asked respondents about their opinions regarding other issues being considered by the Legislature including whether to allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition (50 percent for and 45 percent against); require Internet retailers to pay state sales tax (53 percent for and 43 percent against); and close the state’s pension plan to new employees (45 percent support and 48 percent oppose).

The questions were added to the UF Survey Research Center’s monthly Survey of Floridians. A minimum of 500 households are surveyed each month, proportionate to households by county.

The release is based on data collected from 608 surveys conducted March 1-31, with a 3.85 percent margin of error. The sample is produced through random digit dialing of possible landline phone numbers in the state of Florida. This survey does not include cellphone numbers. Sixty-two percent of all households still maintain a landline and 52.5 percent have both a landline and wireless. Results of the survey are weighted according to U.S. Census information on county, population and age distributions in order to generalize the collected information to the entire state. The weighting adjusts for the lack of cellphone-only respondents.

“The center continues to track public opinion on critical issues being debated in Tallahassee,” said Emma Humphries, assistant in citizenship at the Bob Graham Center. “Florida is a divided state on most issues but significantly in favor of ending workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. We see these numbers as revelatory and hope the Legislature takes note.”

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