Seventy-seven Jacksonville faith leaders have signed a letter in support of an inclusive human rights ordinance. If Jacksonville’s ordinance is expanded, the LGBT community would gain protections in housing and public accommodations.
The faith leaders declared their support for the protections at Friendship Fountain Thursday afternoon before a community discussion about the ordinance Thursday night.
Mayor Lenny Curry set up three community discussions about expanding Jacksonville’s HRO to a fully-inclusive version. This is the second with the theme of religious freedoms.
Avondale United Methodist Church Rev. Clare Chance says a lot of theological issues are complicated but the HRO issue is not.
“I am a Christian, and because our tradition holds that all people, all people are children of God, I support the human rights ordinance in Jacksonville,” she said.
Chance was joined by eight other speakers in support of protecting gay, transgender and non-gender-conforming people from discrimination. It would protect them from being denied services at public places, like restaurants and being denied housing purely based on how they identify.
Restoration of Truth Ministries Pastor Regina Jackson says transgender members of her congregation face discrimination on a regular basis. She says the last thing the faith community should do is support discrimination.
“It gives a bad representation of Jesus Christ and what we stand for and what the Holy Bible calls that we do,” Jackson said. “It can turn a person who can be broken or in despair to an angle of suicide or any other way that would destroy their lives.”
But not all people of faith agree. The First Baptist Church of Jacksonville is providing free parking and shuttle transportation to Thursday's human rights ordinance meeting at Edward Waters College. When an expanded version of the HRO failed to pass in 2012, First Baptist members gave a standing ovation to council members who voted against the LGBT protections.