Discrimination creates high unemployment and poverty rates amongst LGBT individuals; campaign calls for action to strengthen households, bolster economic stability

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363 – 2737 media@aclufl.org

MIAMI - Today, a coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to securing the rights of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) launched “Dignidad y Trabajo” (Dignity and Work), a campaign to raise awareness about the need for workplace protections for LGBT people and to demonstrate the support for such protections within South Florida’s Hispanic community.

The campaign, led by the ACLU of Florida and SAVE with support from The Miami Foundation, will bring together a diverse coalition of individuals from across South Florida to raise awareness about why non-discrimination protections for LGBT workers are so important and bolster support for statewide legislation in the current legislative session—the Competitive Workforce Act— to protect all Floridians from workplace discrimination.

“We believe people should be judged at work by their performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity,” stated Daniel Tilley, LGBT rights staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida. “Through the Dignidad y Trabajo campaign, we aim to give the South Florida community an opportunity to demonstrate to our leaders that providing these protections is a representation of the values of hard work and fairness that have made Miami strong.”

"Dignity and employment for ALL is exactly what we need to achieve here in Miami-Dade County,” said SAVE Executive Director, Tony Lima, “and it’s time we came together to pass a countywide Human Rights Ordinance that guarantees these basic human rights for everyone. We are proud to partner with ACLU of Florida on this important initiative. Juntos, haremos que nuestras voces se oigan: dignidad y trabajo para todos.”

The impact of workplace discrimination on LGBT workers is significant: married or partnered LGBT individuals raising children are twice as likely to have household incomes near the poverty line compared to married or partnered non-LGBT parents. Further, transgender people are nearly four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 per year as the population as a whole. The challenges increase for LGBT workers of color, who have higher rates of unemployment compared to non-LGBT people of color. Unemployment rates for transgender people of color have reached as high as four times the national unemployment rate. The Competitive Workforce Act would address this crisis by providing protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, ensuring that all Floridians have a fair chance to become hardworking, high-performing members of the workforce.

“Attracting people to our great state requires a strong economy, which means having a business climate where workers are valued for what they bring to the table, not judged for who they are,” stated Steven Haas, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our diversity is what makes South Florida attractive to businesses and visitors alike, and the Competitive Workforce Act would greatly strengthen that.”

“I have often had to counsel people who have lost the ability to feed their families, and for that to happen to someone simply because of who they are is wrong,” added Rev. Elizabeth Longo, Associate Minister, Unity on the Bay. “We all have a moral obligation to treat others with the same respect we desire for ourselves and to pursue justice for people who have been unfairly forced to the margins of society. That is how we express the love and compassion that is God.”

Among the voices of leaders in Miami’s business community and faith leaders who support proposals to end discrimination, who are featured in the campaign are: Christian Ulvert from Edge Communications; Damian Pardo from Morgan Stanley; Elizabeth Periche from Goldman Properties; Herb Sosa from Unity Coalition; Steve Adkins from the Miami Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; and Rabbi Tom Heyn from Temple Israel of Greater Miami.

As part of the campaign, supporters of anti-discrimination policies are invited to take a photo holding a sign with the campaign’s iconic logo to be displayed on the campaign’s website. People wishing to see the photos of those who have already submitted images and get involved themselves can visit the campaign’s page at www.aclufl.org/DignityAndWork

High resolution photos from the campaign are available upon request.