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Tommy Hazouri: will reintroduce HRO “in two months,” challenges Bill Gulliford to on-air debate

Vowing to reintroduce it “in two months,” Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri says he’ll keep bringing back HRO legislation because it’s “simple and to the point.”

“We have a human rights ordinance that covers everybody but the LGBT community, and all we’re wanting to do is include them,” he told WJCT’s First Coast Connect. “It’s pure and simple discrimination.”

Hazouri, also a former mayor, state legislator, and school board member, has been the most prominent supporter of expanding equal protections to Jacksonville’s LGBT community. Over the next two months, he says he’ll work further with city attorneys to further clarify business and religious exemptions, and continue to educate the public about the matter.

Meanwhile, Hazouri called concerns over transgender males visiting public bathrooms a “red herring.”

“People think that transgender people are going to go into a restroom and attack somebody. And that’s not true. Talk to sheriff’s offices around the country. Their problem is with sexual predators, not transgenders. Besides, transgender people have been going into bathrooms all along, it’s just that people didn’t realize it.”

And Hazouri, the area’s most popular Democrat, didn’t miss his chance to get in some on-air shots at his two most vocal GOP adversaries at City Hall: Mayor Lenny Curry and City Councilman Bill Gulliford (who wanted a public referendum on the HRO).

“While I commend the mayor for doing protections for city workers, what about the rest of Jacksonville? We need to do it as a city to show our commitment, to ‘One City, One Jacksonville,’ as he likes to proclaim.”

As for Gulliford’s referendum bill, now withdrawn:

“He had a chance to do that in 2012. He was on the Council. He voted against the bill. I wouldn’t mind asking you, let’s have a debate on this. I’ll be glad to debate Mr. Gulliford about the issue itself right here if you’ll set it up, keeping in mind that no human rights issue has ever been voted on through a referendum.”

Written By

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at

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