On the Issues

LGBTQ Equality

A respected civil rights leader nationally known as a champion for LGBTQ equality

Carlos has dedicated his life to defending civil rights for Black and Brown communities, women, immigrants, LGBTQ and the disabled. Decades ago, when politicians began attacking the civil rights and liberties of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBTQ people began organizing and demanding a seat at the table so that we ourselves could stand up and fight back against these attack. As an openly LGBTQ person, Carlos understands why that LGBTQ representation matters. That’s why he has been a vocal champion in fighting for fair and equal treatment of all individuals under the law, including LGBTQ Floridians. He also understands that Florida’s LGBTQ community cannot enjoy full equality while people are still struggling under hateful forces of systemic racism, white supremacy, and HIV stigma and that it is our responsibility to act against those forces.

In January 2015, Florida became the first state in the South to win marriage equality even before the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the freedom to marry for all Americans. During the summer of 2020, the SCOTUS handed down another transformational ruling in the Bostock v. Clayton County case which affirmed that gay and transgender workers were protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sex discrimination amongst other prohibited forms of discrimination. The right-wing backlash that usually comes as a result of victories for our community has been real and sustained as hundreds of anti-LGBT bills were filed in legislatures across the country in the last several years.

Ending Discrimination Against LGBTQ Floridians in Housing and Public Accommodations

While the Bostock ruling made anti-LGBTQ discrimination illegal in the workplace, our work to prohibit this type of discrimination in other areas of Florida law remains critical. That’s why Carlos consistently championed the Florida Competitive Workforce which codify’s the Bostock ruling on employment and goes further to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Floridians in housing and public accommodations. This bipartisan legislation enjoys broad support in the Florida House and Senate, but has been denied a committee hearing year after year by a handful of powerful GOP leaders. After working on this bill for nearly a decade, Carlos is committed to passing this legislation during his service in the legislature and to making sure LGBTQ Floridians are protected from discrimination everywhere in state law where sex discrimination is prohibited.

Expanding Florida's Hate Crimes Law to Include the Transgender Community

Carlos has co-sponsored legislation to strengthen and expand Florida’s hate crimes law include protections for the transgender community, especially since Florida has led the nation in the murders of transgender women, namely Black transgender women. Carlos has also called for better reporting of hate crimes data in Florida and better training for law enforcement officers which will help ensure better reporting of statistics to help us fully understand the hate violence happening in our state.

Protecting LGBTQ Youth

Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive and meet their fullest potential. For LGBTQ youth that includes a supportive and affirming educational environment based on unconditional love and acceptance of the child for who they are. Unfortunately, right-wing politicians have attacked transgender youth, even introducing legislation during the 2020 session to criminalize doctors with up to 15 years in prison for providing life-saving healthcare for transgender youth. Carlos was proud to join parents, trans youth, medical professionals and advocates to defeat this legislation in 2020.

In 2020, an Orlando Sentinel investigation found at least 83 private schools funded by vouchers had policies that expressly discriminated against LGBTQ students and LGBTQ families. These private schools must be held to higher standards and should be required to open their doors to every student– including LGBTQ children. In the meantime, we will continue to use our platform to push for transparency and accountability at private schools funded with taxpayer resources.