Did Aaron Bean kill the Jacksonville HRO?
Sen. Aaron Bean

bean, aaron

A Jacksonville LGBT activist claims there was a backroom deal to spike the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) in exchange for Sen. Aaron Bean supporting the pension tax referendum in Tallahassee. Meanwhile, local leaders, including Mayor Lenny Curry and Councilman Tommy Hazouri (sponsor of the HRO bill that was pulled), refute the claim. Hazouri said that his decision to withdraw was a matter of counting votes and not seeing the support there, which is consistent with what his office told me leading up to the decision.


Carrington Mead, a Jacksonville lawyer, has been at the forefront of the local struggle for LGBT rights. Upon the legalization of same-sex marriage, Mead famously presided over same-sex weddings in Hemming Park, to protest the Duval Clerk of Court’s ending the tradition of courthouse weddings in an attempt to skirt the new federal law at the beginning of 2015.

Mead also was instrumental, early on, in the LGBT Leadership PAC, but that was short lived after a falling out with other members over tactics, which included a confrontation with the former mayor in Hemming Park (the “Bye Felicia” moment).

Interestingly enough, when Mead resigned from the PAC, he said that one issue being discussed was an extension of employment protection via executive order to LGBT people. This came to pass during the Lenny Curry administration, when the 2016 version of the HRO was spiked.

Mead saw that as a half-measure in 2015, and sees it as such now – an example of how stakeholders, including politicians ranging from Curry to HRO bill sponsor Tommy Hazouri, and groups like the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality (JCE), are playing political football with the civil rights of Jacksonville’s LGBT community.


The story, as Mead tells it, is a simple one.

Bean, Senate Sponsor of the Pastor Protection Act, allegedly said that he wouldn’t back Jacksonville’s lead legislative priority, the Discretionary Sales Surtax bill sponsored in the Senate by Rob Bradley, if Jacksonville didn’t put the brakes on the “inclusive HRO.”

Within days, Mead says, word went from the office of Mayor Curry to Councilman Hazouri to drop the bill … which Hazouri did on a Saturday afternoon, typically the break in the news cycle for local political journalists.

Hazouri, said Mead, “got touched.”

Because of this, Mead said, “we’re not going to see an HRO in May” as the city would prefer making “police and fire chiefs millionaires” over offering “basic civil liberties” to the LGBT population.

When asked if Mead supported Hazouri bringing back the HRO bill, Mead emphatically said “Hell no… he’s obviously playing politics with everybody’s lives.”

Hazouri’s office, when asked about Mead’s allegation, said that was the “first time [we] ever heard of it.”

Curry was, in a text message, more blunt. “It’s false. Nonsense. Fabricated,” Curry said. “I have never spoken with Senator Bean about the HRO.”


Mead, who fell out with Jacksonville Coalition for Equality head Jimmy Midyette last year, said Midyette was “gullible” as it relates to repeated promises from mayors Alvin Brown and Curry to move forward on legislation protecting the local LGBT community.

Saying there “will be another excuse later on” regarding why a bill wasn’t passed, Mead notes that Midyette wants to be the “personal hero of the HRO.”


Mead speculates that the eventual compromise, which could emerge after the pension tax referendum or after the November elections, could be a HRO variant that excludes the transgender population. That would, Mead says, be fine with the JCE, which is “bit transphobic.”

Mead wants Mayor Curry to recognize that LGBT lives are important, at least as important as the pension tax.

“Nobody in the LGBT community wants to think they’re a sacrificial lamb for political gain.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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