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First Coast

HRO Passes Second Jacksonville Council Committee

Ray Hollister

A second Jacksonville City Council committee Tuesday approved an LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination bill.

Council members for and against the bill argued the protections will affect businesses.

The rules committee voted 6-1 in favor of adding sexual orientation and gender identity to a list of characteristics — like race and religion — that are protected under Jacksonville's human rights ordinances.

Councilman Danny Becton,  who owns the consulting firm Planogramming Solutions Inc. was the lone ‘no’ vote and called the legislation a “bad bill.”

“Couldn’t you see the situation where an employee turns around and not based on the merits for which that employee was terminated, turns around and goes, ‘you only fired me because of blank?’ ” he said.

Becton thinks the LGBT protections in the bill will be seen as regulations and deter businesses from Jacksonville.

But Councilman Jim Love, a sponsor of the bill who also owns an insurance business through State Farm, argues just the opposite. He said look at the hundreds of business owners who support the bill, including Jaguars owner Shad Khan, Baptist Health CEO Hugh Greene and UNF’s president John Delaney.

“A lot of good people think this is a good idea including the Chamber of Commerce,” Love said.

Love, John Crescimbeni, Greg Anderson, Garrett Dennis, Tommy Hazouri and Scott Wilson voted in favor of the bill.

On Monday, another committee also approved the bill, with the stipulation businesses with up to 50 employees wouldn’t have to comply in hiring LGBT people who are qualified. The rule would still apply for businesses with fewer than 15 employees for other protected characteristics — like age or race. But Tuesday’s committee did not adopt that change.

Any committee amendments or votes are just recommendations for the full council. The Council is expected to vote on the bill next Tuesday.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.