Post submitted by HRC Field Organizer Karl Bach
Supporters and opponents of Jacksonville’s non-discrimination laws shared their stories with city council members for more than five hours Tuesday night. The public hearing ended just before 11 p.m. on a proposed update to Jacksonville’s human rights ordinance (HRO) that would protect LGBT people from unfair treatment in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations, including hotels, restaurants and government services.
Supporters of the update outnumbered opponents and the final 57 speakers of the night all voiced support for these basic protections. Speakers also raised concerns over another bill that would put Jacksonville’s non-discrimination ordinance on the August ballot.
Supporters of the bill that would update Jacksonville’s human rights ordinance to include protections for the LGBT community stand to show their support.
HRC field organizer John McSweeney signs up supporters for the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality email list.
HRC field organizer Jenna Jennings walks supporters through the process for public testimony.
Earlier that day the campaign working to update the HRO, Jacksonville Coalition for Equality (JCE), secured two major endorsements. The first came from State Representative Reggie Fullwood, whose district includes part of Jacksonville.
“LGBT people are a part of our community and we should ensure that they receive fair treatment and have the same opportunities for employment, housing, and participation in public life as the rest of us,” Rep. Fullwood, a former Jacksonville City Council member, said in a statement from JCE. “I have always been a champion for equal rights and I support legislation that keeps discrimination from happening in Jacksonville and throughout our state. LGBT people are part of our community and should be treated with respect and dignity.”
The second major endorsement came from the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chamber has a long history of leading on issues of equality in our community,” Jacksonville Chamber Chair Audrey Moran said. “We know when all of our citizens have an equal opportunity to succeed, that’s good for business and good for quality of life.”
The Jacksonville City Council will be convening three additional meetings to debate the fate of the HRO starting in February: The first on February 4, again on February 18 with the final meeting will be held on March 3. For more information on the local effort visit Jaxequality.org.
HRC is proud to work alongside Equality Florida and Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN) as part of the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality. Together we hope to bring Jacksonville in line with every other major city in America with the passage of a fully-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.