After Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar (R-FL) voted against the Equality Act, LGBTQ groups and leaders in Miami recently met with her to voice their concerns and disappointment in her position.
Among the organizations alarmed by Salazar’s position was Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE), a nonprofit organization that uses political advocacy and community outreach to protect people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) against discrimination.
During the meeting, Orlando Gonzales (pictured), Executive Director at SAVE, addressed the organization’s desire to see the passage of the Equality Act, which would establish federal statutes providing comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The organization requested she enact three policy directives:
1. Pledge to support the Equality Act and call for its passage.
2. Denounce the attacks on transgender youth in Tallahassee and foster a community where transgender Floridians are respected and welcomed.
3. Work to establish a bipartisan coalition to enact comprehensive federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination legislation.
“It’s an opportunity for her to take leadership and we’re looking to see if she will step up,” Gonzales says.
In terms of helping to establish protections against the LGBTQ community, Gonzales stressed that SAVE does not want to force religious organizations to marry people they don’t want to. But he says LGBTQ people need more laws ensuring they can have equal access to essential services.
“The use of religion to discriminate in healthcare and education is inhumane,” Gonzales says. “We fully support religious freedom and we’re not trying to impose our community on any ministry. People needing healthcare, education and long-term care should not be discriminated against in those cases. It’s irresponsible.”
With Florida recently enacting a bill banning transgender youth from participating in sports, Gonzales believes that while the legislation will only impact a small percent of the community, it’s an indicator of the battle facing equal rights for LGBTQ people.
“Efforts are being made to signal that we are not welcome,” he says.
At the time of this posting, Rep. Salazar had not yet responded to a media request.