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CNN’s LGBTQ town hall: 3 things Floridians should watch for

There are a number of topics that could come up, from homelessness to Trump’s transgender military ban to jobs.
Clockwise from top left: Warren; Biden; O'Rourke; Harris; Booker; Buttigieg, Castro; Klobuchar. Center: Steyer. [Associated Press]
Published Oct. 10
Updated Oct. 10

Nine Democratic presidential candidates will speak about LGBTQ issues during a town hall in Los Angeles tonight. CNN and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation will host, including interviewers Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, who are both gay men.

The Power of Our Pride presidential town hall will include South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is the only out candidate; former Vice President Joe Biden; Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Sen. Kamala Harris; Sen. Cory Booker; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Rep. Beto O’Rourke; Julian Castro, the former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and businessman Tom Steyer.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who recently had a heart attack, will not be attending. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Andrew Yang both declined the invitation to participate.

This is the second forum to focus on LGBTQ issues. The first was held in Iowa in September.

There are a number of topics that could come up, from homelessness to Trump’s transgender military ban to jobs. Here are the top three issues that Floridians should keep an eye out for:

1. SCOTUS and LGBTQ cases

Under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are forbidden from discrimination on the basis of sex.

But the Supreme Court is divided on whether the existing federal law would allow employers to make hiring and firing decisions based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The court is considering several cases related to this: one from a woman who says she was fired because she is transgender, and two from workers who say they were fired for being gay.

RELATED: A Supreme Court showdown over LGBTQ discrimination began Tuesday. Here’s what to know.

A decision likely won’t arrive until 2020, but the topic is critical for folks in the Sunshine State. Florida is among 28 states that do not protect against workplace discrimination.

2. National and state legislation against discrimination

Another national topic is the bipartisan Equality Act, which would update existing civil rights laws to explicitly protect LGBTQ people at work, school, public spaces and other areas.

The Equality Act passed a House vote in May, but the Republican-controlled Senate has yet to vote on it. The Trump administration and Senate Republicans have been clear about their opposition to the bill.

Today, Buttigieg and Warren both released equality plans for LGBTQ individuals and stated that they support the Equality Act.

For nearly a decade, lawmakers have tried to pass legislation to prevent Floridians from being fired or not hired for being gay or transgender. None have been successful.

There are several bills from Tampa Bay area legislators that would prohibit this kind of discrimination, if they pass in 2020. Lawmakers are hoping to approve the Competitive Workforce Act to protect workers and lure businesses to Florida. The act would also prohibit such discrimination in housing.

RELATED: Will Florida lawmakers finally pass an anti-LGBTQ discrimination bill next year?

What do the candidates think about these kinds of protections? We might find out tonight.

3. Conversion therapy

The practice of conversion therapy has been used, usually by religious groups, to try to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

Typically, conversion therapy is used on younger people or children after they come out. Sometimes it involves electric shock therapy. It has been opposed by the American Psychological Association and other major professional groups.

There is no ban against conversion therapy nationwide or on a state level in Florida, though counties and cities have stepped up. Tampa’s City Council implemented a law to ban conversion therapy in 2017, but last week, it was overturned by a federal judge.

RELATED: Tampa’s ban on conversion therapy struck down by federal judge

Warren and Buttigieg’s plans include putting a stop to conversion therapy across the nation. Will the other candidates agree?

The town hall will air on CNN and tonight from 7:30 p.m. to midnight ET.


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