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Report: Jacksonville Has Highest Percentage Of LGBT Residents In Florida, No Protections

Eric Wagner

Jacksonville is the Florida metro area with the highest percentage of LGBT residents, yet is one of the few large cities with no anti-discrimination ordinance to protect them. That’s according to the report released Tuesday by the Jacksonville Office of General Counsel.

The report was prepared at the request of outgoing Mayor Alvin Brown.

The Jacksonville City Council considered but voted down an expanded human-rights ordinance to protect LGBT residents in 2012. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced again this year.

The lawyers’ report notes federal protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity apply only to employees of federal agencies.

It also says Florida is one of 17 states without protections for LGBT residents in the areas of housing and public accommodation. And it’s one of 21 states with a religious freedom statute guaranteeing religious people the freedom from “substantial burdens” to their practice.

Finally, it says any ordinance the City Council passes can’t conflict with state or federal law, but the city could add protections not already given at those levels.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP