Equality group credits mayor with huge leap in Jacksonville’s LGBT friendliness score
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Jacksonville has shown improvement in its “LGBT friendliness” score, nearly doubling it in the last year. And the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality credits Republican Mayor Lenny Curry as the reason why.

In the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, Jacksonville earned a rating of 49 out of 100 for 2016, up from 26 in 2015.

FloridaPolitics.com reported a draft version of the MEI had Jacksonville as a 31, pointing out then that key metrics were left out.

The Human Rights Campaign apparently agreed.

Writes the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality: “Most of the new points awarded to Jacksonville are due to actions Mayor Lenny Curry took this year. In March 2016, Mayor Curry issued a departmental directive which protected city employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. Additionally, he directed that all companies that contract with the City of Jacksonville provide the same level of protection to their LGBT employees. The mayor’s action led to an increase of 18 points on the MEI score.”

The JCE’s goal has been a fully inclusive Human Rights Ordinance, and despite kudos to the mayor, JCE Chair Dan Merkan says “there’s still work to be done.”

“HRC’s Municipal Equality Index is used by companies and sports organizations as part of their calculus to move jobs and hold major events. To make Jacksonville more competitive, the city council must pass a fully inclusive HRO that sends the message that Jacksonville is open for business and does not tolerate any type of discrimination,” Merkan contended.

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Mayor Curry has dealt with a great deal of political pressure from both proponents and opponents of LGBT rights expansion since he launched his campaign for mayor in 2014, and it hasn’t always been a smooth journey for him.

Early in his term, Curry introduced a series of “community conversations” regarding potential expansion of the HRO.

Those conversations proved to be fractious.

As the city council deliberated the matter, Curry issued his departmental directive protecting city employees and those of contractors to the city, saying further action beyond that would not be “prudent.”

FloridaPolitics.com has reached out to the mayor’s office to see if Curry’s position on this matter has evolved toward supporting HRO expansion, ahead of an expected introduction of another expansion measure later this year.

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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