Surprising no one who has followed the issue over the years, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine sent Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry a letter this week opposing expansion of the local Human Rights Ordinance.
Advocates want protections extended to the LGBT community in housing, employment, and public accommodations, such as bathrooms and locker rooms.
The latter condition is a sticking point for many opponents, however, including the aforementioned prelate.
The bishop, Felipe Estevez, recognizes the “spirit” of the proposed legislation as desiring “all persons, regardless of physical or physiological distinctions” to be treated with “justice and dignity” as “human beings made in the image and likeness of God.”
However, he sees the proposed amendment as one that “intrudes into the realm of personal freedom.”
“It would force people to accept … the actions of people which are deeply offensive and objectionable,” the bishop asserted.
The bishop likened objecting to expansion of the HRO to objecting to war on moral grounds, as happened during “the darkest days of World War II.”
Enforcement of the law is, meanwhile, “fraught with peril,” compromising “life and liberty” and the “freedom and livelihood” of people raising their families and functioning in the commercial sphere.
The bill will occupy much of February for the Jacksonville City Council.
There is a public notice meeting on it on Feb. 2, then a week of committee discussion before the Feb. 14 vote of the full panel.