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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

Human Rights Ordinance: Does Jacksonville Need It?

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The interfaith group OneJax held the latest in their Civil Discourse discussion series last week about an issue that will most likely play a role in Jacksonville's mayoral and City Council elections: the city's human rights ordinance.

In 2012, the City Council decided against updating Jacksonville's HRO to include sexual orientation and gender as part of the city’s non-discrimination laws. Jacksonville is now the only major city in Florida - and one of only a few in the country - that has not made this change.

The HRO currently protects residents from discrimination in employment, housing and use of public accommodations based on race, religion, marital status and disability.

The discussion, titled "Human Rights Ordinance: Does Jacksonville Need It?", was presented by OneJax in partnership with WJCT and the Florida Times-Union. OneJax is a UNF institute that promotes respect and understanding between diverse perspectives to build an inclusive community.

The panel was composed of speakers both for and against expanding the HRO, and included Haskell Company CEO Steve Halverson, attorneys Carrington "Rusty" Mead and Roger Gannam, City Councilman Bill Gulliford, Atlantic Beach City Commissioner Maria Mark and First Baptist Church of Oakland Pastor Torin Dailey.

OneJax executive director Nancy Broner and Florida Times-Union editor Frank Denton joined Melissa Ross with some of the takeaways from the discussion.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.