MIAMI, FL - Friday, January 15, 2010 – This week marked the passage of two important pieces of pro-equality legislation in Miami-Dade County. On Wednesday, January 13, 2010, the City of Miami Beach unanimously passed a revised and strengthened Human Rights Ordinance. And on Thursday, January 14, 2010, the City of South Miami passed a Domestic Partnership Ordinance. The Miami Beach ordinance strengthens the language and enforcement mechanisms against discrimination in the city. The South Miami ordinance extends access to health insurance to domestic partners of city employees, just as is provided for spouses of employees.
The Miami Beach ordinance passed first reading last October. In 1992, Miami Beach became the first city in South Florida to pass such a Human Rights Ordinance, but other municipalities had since adopted stronger and better laws in the 17 intervening years.
For the past year, SAVE Dade worked closely with the City Attorney's Office and former Commissioner Victor Diaz, who sponsored the ordinance, drafting revisions that would remedy the outdated terminology and mechanics of the legislation. Mirroring the best modern state anti-discrimination laws in the country, the Miami Beach Commission voted this week to strengthen the language, enforcement mechanisms, process of complaint and legal access to the law of the city’s ordinance, which had become antiquated over time.
The most significant outcome of this process has been the establishment of the Miami Beach Human Rights Commission. Because there is still no state or federal law preventing gay or transgender people from being fired from their jobs or otherwise discriminated in Florida, the Commission will serve as an enforcing and advisory body of the Human Rights Ordinance, ensuring that gay and transgender residents of Miami Beach are protected from discrimination. Businesses that violate the ordinance will be reprimanded and, in the case of repeat offenders, could be stripped of certain licenses necessary to continuing business, such as a liquor license.
On the heels of the Miami Beach vote, the City of South Miami passed a Domestic Partnership Ordinance yesterday, making it the city’s first pro-LGBT legislation since it was incorporated in 1927. The Ordinance passed its first reading last December and was cosponsored by South Miami Mayor Horace G. Feliu and City Commissioner Valerie Newman. It passed Thursday’s second reading with an additional supporting vote from Vice-Mayor Brian D. Beasley. City Commissioners Velma Palmer and Lew Sellars voted against the ordinance.
Commissioner Valerie Newman said, “Providing employment benefits, including healthcare, to the domestic partners of our City of South Miami employees is a common sense idea that has been far too long in coming. This is nothing more than treating people equally. I am proud to say our City is doing the right thing.”
SAVE Dade had been working on a Domestic Partnership Ordinance in the City of South Miami for the past two years. The SAVE Dade Action PAC endorsed Commissioner Newman during her 2009 campaign and she had committed to sponsoring such legislation. Her support for the ordinance was instrumental to its passage.
Domestic Partnership Ordinances allow city employees in non-spousal relationships, whether gay or heterosexual, the eligibility to include their domestic partners under their health insurance benefits, which is a right that is automatic for heterosexual married employees. In the aftermath of Amendment 2, Florida remains one of 29 states in the nation that have constitutionally banned same-sex marriage, and one of 19 states that do not recognize gay or lesbian relationships in any form. Domestic Partnerships are the only current form of recognition offered to gay and lesbian couples on a local level.
"We thank the City of South Miami Commissioners who voted for the ordinance along with the Mayor in recognizing that the families of all city employees deserve fair and equitable treatment," said SAVE Dade's Executive Director, C.J. Ortuno. The City of South Miami joins the City of Miami, North Miami, Miami Beach, and Miami-Dade County, which have all passed similar Domestic Partnership Ordinances.
Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE) advocates for equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and educates the community about human rights with an emphasis on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. Established in 1993, SAVE accomplishes this mission through education initiatives, outreach, grassroots organizing, and advocacy. Starting with the landmark passage of Miami's Human Rights Ordinance in 1998 to recent enactments of domestic partner benefit policies, SAVE continues to lead the fight for LGBT equality in Miami-Dade County.
4500 Biscayne Blvd. Suite 340 | North Miami, FL 33137
305-751-SAVE (7283) | 1-800-396-8709 f | savedade.org |