BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Miami-Dade commissioners on Tuesday withdrew a proposal adding gender identity and expression to the county’s current anti-discrimination law.
“The commission has decided to withdraw the item in order to allow more time to educate the county commission on this important issue,” said Maria Barth, deputy director of SAVE Dade, the county’s leading gay-rights group.
The plan, which couldn't gather enough votes at the committee level, would have banned discrimination in housing, public accommodations and employment based on gender identity or expression.
The county’s existing gay-rights law that passed in 1998 doesn’t cover transgender people. Monroe County and Key West updated their human rights ordinances in 2003, Miami Beach in 2004, Palm Beach County in 2007 and Broward County in 2008.
Tuesday night, Equality Florida, the statewide gay-rights group, announced a trans-inclusive anti-discrimination law passed 4-0 in Alachua County, including the Gainesville area.
In May, Miami-Dade Commissioners Bruno Barreiro and Audrey Edmonson filed a trans-inclusive amendment, co-sponsored by Commissioners Barbara Jordan and Sally Heyman. The amendment passed on first reading with an 11-1 vote. Only Miami-Dade Commission Vice Chairwoman Lynda Bell voted against.
The amendment then went to the commission’s Health and Social Services Committee, comprised of chairwoman Edmonson, Bell, Commissioners Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Jean Monestime and Javier D. Souto.
After lobbying by Miami-Dade's statewide Christian Family Coalition, the committee declined to discuss the proposal at its July 8 meeting and originally decided to defer until Aug. 26.
On Tuesday, commission co-sponsors dropped the plan.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said Tuesday’s decision “is the step that needed to be taken.”
“It’s fairly apparent the education failed and the politics failed,” she said. “They now know who they need to educate and who they need to advocate with.”