Jacksonville Passes LGBT-Inclusive HRO, 12-6

Feb 13, 2017

A capacity crowd at City Hall.
Credit Lindsay Kilbride / WJCT News

The Jacksonville City Council  approved updating the city's human rights ordinances to include LGBT protections.

The bill passed by a 12-6 vote.  Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took no action, resulting in the bill becoming law. 

Final vote from the City Council.
Credit Lindsay Kilbride / WJCT News

LIVE FROM CITY HALL

5:30 p.m. Council Member Katrina Brown isn't at tonight's meeting. She was an HRO yes vote in committees.

5:45 p.m. The Human Rights Commission would consider nine factors before determining if religious organizations can be exempt from HRO legislation.

5:50 p.m. Council passed amendment that would prohibit anyone from serving jail time for violating HRO, if passed.

5:55 p.m. Councilman Bill Gulliford is offering HRO amendment to put LGBT rights to a ballot referendum vote. Says "Let the people vote."

5:57 p.m. Councilman Reginald Brown is against the referendum, says he doubts African Americans would have been given protections if it was up to the people to vote.

6:02 p.m. Councilman Al Ferraro says bill will affect businesses & religious community, argues businesses will go broke just for being accused.

6:08 p.m. HRO referendum amendment fails.

6:09 p.m. Councilman Danny Becton is offering amendment to exempt private sector from having to comply with HRO expansion.

6:15 p.m. Councilman Jim Love says he's called other cities w/ LGBT-inculsive HROs and they're not having any of the hypothetical issues members are raising.

6:21 p.m. Becton's amendment to exempt private sector fails.

6:22 p.m. Now Gulliford is offering amendment to remove 'gender identity' from HRO bill.

6:25 p.m. This would grant HRO protections for the lesbian, gay and bisexual population but not transgender population. In 2012 a bill like this failed by one vote.

6:34 p.m. Gulliford amendment fails.

6:39 p.m. Jacksonville City Council passes LGBT-inclusive HRO by a 12-6 vote. 

7:55 p.m. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry takes no action, resulting in the bill becoming law.

This year is the third time City Council members have tried to pass a similar bill.

The latest HRO bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to a list of already protected characteristics — like religion and race — in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.

The bill passed in three city council committees last week, but questions remained, like whether religious organizations, such as the City Rescue Mission homeless shelter, would have to comply.

The legislation needs 10 council votes to pass, but could still be vetoed by Mayor Lenny Curry. But 13 votes can override a veto. Last year, Curry said the added protections weren’t needed but he hasn’t signaled whether he’d veto it this year.

Council members can also offer amendments to the bill Tuesday night.

Councilman Bill Gulliford asked during a committee meeting for an amendment to put LGBT rights on a ballot for a public vote, which didn’t pass. .  

In 2012, a bill to protect gay and bisexual people — but not transgender people — failed by one vote.

Last year, a bill to protect the LGBT population was withdrawn before a vote. Sponsor Tommy Hazouri said at the time he didn’t believe it would pass.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall at 117 W Duval St.

Photo: "Rainbow Flag" used under Creative Commons