Amidst growing bipartisan support for an LGBT inclusive Human Rights Ordinance (HRO), Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced plans to ban discrimination against LGBT employees and contractors.
Last week, Curry announced plans to require employees of the city and employees of any vendors who contract with Jacksonville to be protected from discrimination consistent with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) guidance regarding anti-discrimination policies. Given the EEOC's position that gender identity and sexual orientation are included under Title VII, we expect the Mayor's directive would therefore provide employment protections to LGBT city employees as well.
This is an important step and a clear recognition of the need to protect LGBT people in Jacksonville. The announcement comes as the Jacksonville City Council prepares to begin hearings on a bill that would update the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity expression.
The Human Rights Campaign is a founding partner of the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, a local Jacksonville coalition that has been building public support and support on council for these protections.
“The Mayor pledged to listen to the community and find a Jacksonville solution to the discrimination that those conversations revealed,” said Dan Merkan, chair, Jacksonville Coalition for Equality. “We thank Mayor Curry for keeping his word and for taking this important step in providing protections for those who work or do business with the city. Now we are focused on ensuring that those same protections extend to all who live and work and visit our city.”
Last week, Jacksonville City Councilman Jim Love (R) announced that he would be co-sponsoring the bill. Love is joining Councilmembers Tommy Hazouri (D) and Aaron Bowman (R) in co-sponsoring legislation that will create lasting protections that the LGBT community and businesses can count on for years to come. HRC applauds Councilman Love for lending his name and his voice to this critical legislation.
“We will continue to support bill 2016-002, oppose the 2016-001 referendum bill, and work for full equality for all LGBT citizens of Jacksonville,” Merkan said. “Our city council has been extremely professional in their handling of this important issue, and we will continue to work with our 19 members towards a successful conclusion to this process.”