Florida now has an LGBTQ consumer advocate for the first time ever

Commissioner Nikki Fried says position she created advocates for LGBTQ community

By Larissa Hamblin - Digital Intern
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. - For the first time ever, the Florida Department of Agriculture now has a designated position created to protect and advocate for LGBTQ consumers.

Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried announced Thursday her appointment of Nik Harris as the first LGBTQ consumer advocate.

Under the new position created by Fried, Harris will serve as the department’s liaison to Florida’s LGBTQ community by raising awareness of opportunities within the agriculture industry and helping address discrimination and fraud targeted at the LGBTQ community, according to a news release.

"Historically, the state of Florida has turned a blind eye to discrimination against our LGBTQ community, but today is a new day in our state. We’re building a department that represents all Floridians, and it’s paramount that LGBTQ Floridians have a voice in defending their safety, economic security and well-being. I’m pleased to have Nik Harris as our LGBTQ Consumer Advocate, helping safeguard consumer rights within this underserved community,” Fried said.

Harris has worked at the Florida Department of Transportation for more than 10 years and, most recently, he served as senior attorney to provide legal counsel. He has also been a licensed Florida attorney since 2004.

He has been a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community, serving as a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Florida Bar Association, and is involved with the Human Rights Campaign as a member of the Board of Governors.

“Commissioner Fried has made history and sent a strong message that Florida is open to all – that every consumer, resident and visitor should be treated fairly, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now is the time for Florida to lead the South by updating our civil rights laws and redeeming a history of anti-LGBT discrimination,” Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, said.

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