Jax faith leaders call for HRO expansion
Faith leade

Jax HRO faith leaders

Ahead of the first Jacksonville City Council reading of the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) expansion bills, the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality held its second news conference with faith leaders on Monday,  a cold day in Springfield’s Klutho Park.

The statement that 102 faith leaders of the Abrahamic faiths signed:

Love and respect for one’s fellow human beings are among the most prominent and universal core values shared among all spiritual and religious traditions. Though each tradition differs one from the other, all spiritual and religious persons and groups can at least agree with this basic tenet: We have a deep and abiding obligation to love and respect others. Indeed, not treating others respectfully or as we would want to be treated ourselves is seen as moral failure by all faith traditions. As leaders of faith representing a wide variety of spiritual expressions in northeast Florida, we strongly support full civil rights, including protections from discrimination, in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. We see such support as being fully consistent with our spiritual beliefs.

Torin Dailey, who was a panelist at the first Community Conversation, spoke of HRO updating as “advancing the ball” in the context of the Golden Rule.

While he “does not endorse homosexuality,” Dailey said he does “embrace people,” and updating the HRO is “the only right thing to do.”

Linda Girouex, of Riverside United Church of Christ, echoed Dailey’s comments. saying the HRO expansion accorded with “American values” and “the right to the pursuit of happiness,” as she spoke of the difficulty of LGBT people to find jobs in the face of discrimination.

“We all deserve a way to make a living … a decent place to live … the right to go to public accommodations … without being concerned that we might be embarrassed or thrown out,” Girouex said. “We are all equal in the eyes of our creator.

“Without the [HRO], we will continue to be a city that discriminates against part of our population. That’s just wrong.”

Lutheran minister William Hamilton said, “When one of our sisters or brothers suffers from the lack of human rights, we all suffer.”

Calling on pastors to provide “radical hospitality to all of our people,” Hamilton called for “total inclusion of all people of Jacksonville.”

Rabbi Howard Tilman, a proponent of Conservative Judaism, noted that “we are all created … in the image of God” and that any abnegation of human rights goes against that creed.

Support for the expanded HRO, Tilman said, is consistent with the Torah and the teaching of Leviticus “to love each person equally.”

“Each of us was created with the divine spark and it is our obligation to see past the things that divide us and find what unites us,” Tilman said.

“Discrimination is wrong in all its forms,” Tilman said.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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