The phones were lit up Friday morning when FloridaPolitics.com visited the office of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.
The subject: Curry allowing the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to become law, albeit without his signature.
When asked Wednesday about not signing the HRO into law, the mayor cited his position that he did “not believe that legislation was necessary” after signing his departmental directive in 2016 to protect LGBT city employees and city contractor employees from workplace discrimination.
“I still hold that view. But the city council is the legislative body. Last night, they took up the issue … and it got a supermajority vote. They demonstrated their will … Republicans and Democrats, council people from all over this city,” Curry continued.
“It’s law without my signature, and we’re moving on,” Curry said. “It’s closed. It’s over.”
Though it is over, in the sense that LGBT rights are now codified in Jacksonville law, it’s not over for those on the religious right who supported Curry in 2015 … and are threatening to withhold support in future mayoral runs.
They point to an email from Mar. 9, 2015, in which Curry said he would have vetoed the 2012 version of the HRO expansion — one that ultimately did not pass the city council.
“I thought that 2012-296 was flawed in its assumption of widespread discrimination and in it the remedies it proposed. Based on how this kind of legislation has affected other cities, I came to believe that the regulations contained in the bill could have created more problems than they solved. That’s why I would have vetoed the bill had I been mayor,” Curry wrote.
Of course, there were changes between 2012 and 2017: an increasing societal understanding of the need for LGBT protections, a bill that was drafted to protect small businesses and religious organizations, and so on.
But for a fervent band of commenters, the objection isn’t to granular elements of the legislation — but to the need for it at all.
And, as was the case earlier this week, they continue to let Curry have it.
Some sample correspondence: “You have previously stated, ‘[I am] pro-life, and you are a Christian. I was raised in the faith and I am active in my church.’ You also, stated….. I would have VETOED the bill if I was MAYOR!”
“This anti-liberty proposal is the worst possible piece of public policy any elected official could support. It violates the dignity, safety and the security of women and children and disregards religious liberty,” asserted another.
“I thought you had more courage. I will support someone who will stand up against the tyranny of the Social Justice Warriors,” asserted another correspondent.
We contacted Curry’s office Friday afternoon, and were advised to refer to the statement issued Tuesday evening after the supermajority city council vote in favor of HRO expansion.
For Curry, the matter is closed.
The question going forward: when will the matter be closed for his critics on this issue?