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Anti-HRO Activists Insist Law Isn’t ‘Settled’

Ryan Benk

Around 100 demonstrators rallied outside Jacksonville City Hall Wednesday to urge Mayor Lenny Curry to veto a recent ordinance extending legal protections to LGBT people.

While Curry said the issue is settled, attorneys from the conservative law firm Liberty Counsel — one of three groups behind the protest —argue in a legal memo that Curry could still veto the bill that extended anti-discrimination protections to LGBT residents.

“Roger Gannam, who works for Liberty Counsel, he analyzed it and it is not law until after the next city council meeting, which is Feb. 28,” said Amber Kelly, a spokeswoman for Florida Family Policy Council, an Orlando-based Christian lobbying group.

Gannam said that gives activists another week to change Curry’s mind. He cites a city charter provision dealing with the mayor’s veto power.

Thecharter makes clear the mayor has three choices: veto the bill, sign the bill or do what Curry did, return it to Council unsigned.

The mayor said last week that made the law effective immediately.

“City Council’s the legislative body and last night they took up an issue, like they would any issue, and they got a supermajority vote. They demonstrated their will through a supermajority — Republicans and Democrats — council people from all over the city. It’s law without my signature and we’re moving on,” he said.

In an emailed statement, Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel backed Curry up.

“The effective date of the law is the date he signs, or if he chooses not to sign, the date it was enacted by Council,” he wrote. “Accordingly, Ordinance2017-15-E became law on February 14, 2017 without his signature. His action is final.”

Liberty Counsel has not said whether they’ll challenge the law in court.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.