Friday became a momentous day for the Human Rights Ordinance expansion in Jacksonville when Mayor Lenny Curry, at long last, took a position on the question.
Curry issued a departmental directive to change city employment-related policies and practices to comply with all federal and state laws. That policy change precludes and prohibits all forms of employment discrimination, on any basis, as now interpreted by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
However, there is a caveat.
In a memo, Curry seemed to undercut the proposed legislation:
“Based on the extensive community discussion and the actions that I have taken and directed, I have concluded my review, analysis and determination of this issue, and as such, I do not believe any further legislation would be prudent.”
That could mean he might veto legislation that passed, or lets it become law without signing it. And it could mean some soft supporters might peel off from supporting the measure.
Before all of that, however, other things happened:
- Shad Khan told us that HRO expansion was “like civil rights” and that now it’s “so late that it’s not even worthy of discussion.”
Khan had talked to Alvin Brown about it before the previous election, and one can presume Curry knows his take.
- As well, the Tommy Hazouri and Aaron Bowman effort to get a fully inclusive bill through continued with a public notice meeting with Council members.
Hazouri noted the exemptions for small businesses with few than 15 employees, as well as for churches and pastors and their nonprofits.
Councilman Jim Love, who has signed on, said that he talked with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn about Tampa’s experience with its own legislation, passed in 1993.
Buckhorn told Love that the contentions of assaults in public bathrooms, related to this bill, are a “myth,” and that the upshot of Tampa’s legislation was “people treating each other better.”
Lawsuits, Buckhorn said, are not an issue.
Love thinks there’s a “lot to lose” if the legislation doesn’t pass, and the problem is people being “discriminated against.”
Other Council members, such as Joyce Morgan and Al Ferraro, have qualms about such legislation. Morgan cited “passions” on both sides; Ferraro thought the law could confer “special rights.”
One wonders whether the mayoral departmental directive will be enough for them and those who worry about unintended consequences.
Scott Wilson, not supported by either the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality or the anti-LGBT PACs on the right, noted that the transgender portions of the bill still concern him.
Councilman Bowman, the Chamber-affiliated member, said the lack of a city stance against anti-LGBT discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations hurts business recruitment, even though companies don’t say why they passed on Jacksonville.
Hazouri said his bill will “keep moving forward,” wondering why protections are “prudent for city employees but not the city.”
Love shares that commitment to this process, saying “all the major cities have done this,” and it’s necessary for Jacksonville to compete with them economically.