Judge Dismisses Suit Against City Regarding Jacksonville HRO

Dec 22, 2017

A group of business owners and a Jacksonville resident had their lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville dismissed Wednesday. The suit had argued the city’s updating of its human rights ordinances should be invalidated.

In February the Jacksonville City Council added sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories for housing, hiring and public accommodations in Jacksonville. The bill became known as the “HRO bill.” Characteristics like religion and race were already protected under a few ordinances.

Plaintiff John Parsons, a Jacksonville resident, alleged injury to “personal bodily privacy, modesty and dignity,” over the HRO updates. Businesses Liberty Ambulance Service and Diamond D. Ranch argued in the suit the HRO updates conflicted with their religious beliefs.

See: Motion to dismiss granted

Related: Lawsuit Filed to Invalidate Jacksonville’s Recently Passed HRO

Related: LGBT Supporters Say ‘Love Wins’ After Jacksonville’s HRO Bill Passes

The plaintiffs were represented by the legal group Liberty Counsel, which has a history of fighting against these types of city laws and same-sex marriage.

When the suit was filed in March Liberty Counsel lawyer Roger Gannam said the Jacksonville HRO was written too vaguely under Florida law and the authors of the HRO removed language required for the bill without outlining the changes it would make.

In Senior Circuit Judge Michael Weatherby’s dismissal of the suit he said “because of the speculative nature of their alleged injuries, including those of the newly-joined Plaintiffs, it appears that Plaintiffs are unable to allege any such basis in this action.”

Photo used under Creative Commons.

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

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