“We have your back today, tomorrow and forever,” said Hannah Willard, public policy director for Equality Florida, to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
On Feb. 21 at Midtown Caboose, Equality Florida held an event to allow the LBGT community to mingle and connect with one another.
Equality Florida is one of the largest civil rights organizations in the state dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBT community, according to the network’s website.
As Willard spoke to the crowd, she shared how the state does provide some protection for LGBT people.
“60 percent of Floridians currently live in cities or counties that have local LGBT protection, that’s huge,” said Willard.
Willard reminded the audience that there is hope for them because Equality Florida have their back no matter what.
“We will never see any ground, we will never allow our progress to be rolled back and we will continue to carve out victories and also find them.”
However, while Willard proclaimed to the audience that there is hope and they will continue to fight, she confessed that there is trouble coming their way.
“House Bill 17 recently filed in the Florida’s House would repeal all local LBGT protections in the state of Florida. It would prohibit us from implementing any new policies.”
Sponsored by Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), House Bill 17 targets local nondiscrimination protection for all Floridians including those identifying as LGBT.
It also prohibits specific local governments from imposing or adopting certain regulations and if enacted, would overturn any protection currently in place on Jan. 1, 2020.
Kelvin Rutledge, a local volunteer with Equality Florida said that purpose of the Tallahassee Equality Connection event is to build a community among members.
“The purpose of the Tallahassee Equality Connection is it’s a smaller and formal way for Equality Florida to build community and collaboration with our local membership,” said Rutledge.
With the support of Equality Florida, Rutledge explains how there is help with connections and also provide a program on Equality Florida’s background.
“Through this environment we help provide connections and provide a short program that overviews about Equality Florida, updates and events so that they can participate and engage in in ways that really give a lesser time.”
Rutledge seeks change in the LGBT community and he believes that starts with non-discrimination amongst all LGBT members.
“Employment discrimination, hiring in the housing employment discrimination, we are looking at that areas that we can attack where we can invest time, talent and resources so we can address those needs in the state of Florida.”