Letter: An Unnoticed Historic Moment
St Augustine, FL
On February 3rd, the St Augustine Beach City Commission had a second reading and public comment on Resolution 2013-01, which would provide protection against discrimination in housing on the basis of sexual orientation.
During public comments, the St Augustine Industrial Workers of the World presented the commission a resolution recommending inclusion of gender identity as a protected class and requesting the extension of these protections to the workplace.
At the conclusion of the public comments, Commissioner Undine Pawlowski proposed amending Resolution 2013-01 to include gender identity as a protected class. Her proposal and the resolution were both passed unanimously.
Commissioner Pawlowski later stated that she had asked the city attorney to prepare a draft ordinance to provide these same protections in the workplace.
This was an historical moment as St Augustine Beach is the first local government in northeast Florida to recognize and act on its responsibility to protect all citizens.
Contrary to popular belief, no state or federal protections exist to prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Florida is one of only two states that do not have a Department of Labor — many local businesses do not come under the jurisdiction of the federal Department of Labor.
This leaves workers little or no recourse if mistreated.
The St Augustine Industrial Workers of the World would like to extend our thanks to Commissioner Pawlowski and the St Augustine Beach City Commission for taking this action and to Ed Slavin who has spent a great deal of time and effort to bring this issue to the attention of local governments.