Appeals court strikes down Jacksonville’s anti-discrimination gay-rights law

Could city appeal to Supreme Court?

Is Jacksonville’s HRO DOA?

A Duval County law protecting LGBT rights to public accommodations, employment, and housing suffered a potentially fatal legal setback Friday.

Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal reversed a decision by a Duval County court to dismiss a challenge to the city’s expansion of its so-called Human Rights Ordinance.

The court sided with plaintiffs, who contended that amendments approved in 2017 were “null and void” because their adoption violated state law.

The city approved a swath of code changes as part of what was popularly called “passing the HRO,” but plaintiffs contended that those changes were not laid out and that the Office of General Counsel would “write the ordinance later.”

The county court did not entertain this argument, contending the plaintiffs lacked standing and could not challenge the law until they could demonstrate being adversely impacted by it.

The appeals court saw it differently, saying the city violated “governing principles of notice and due process.”

The bill passed 12-6 in 2017, approved by a City Council that has seen change in membership since.

Republican Mayor Lenny Curry refused to sign the bill.

“I said then and continue to believe additional legislation was unnecessary,” Curry said in 2017.

The law hasn’t been a big talker in Jacksonville in the three years since it passed.

However, the discussion of LGBT rights leading up to the bill’s ratification was as fractious as anything since school integration last century.

Incoming City Council President Tommy Hazouri, who sponsored the 2017 legislation, said all options are on the table, including potentially passing the law again. The city’s general counsel confirmed that potential cure legislation is on the table, as is an appeal to what is currently a conservative Florida Supreme Court.

Read the decision here.

A.G. Gancarski

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


  • L. Brown

    May 1, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    There do not exist LGBT rights, Black rights, Women’s rights, or White rights, no matter what the self-conscious minorities or majorities proclaim. But there do exist Human rights. It is those that the judicial system is intended to protect in an objective manner by following the law. The sooner that meaningless and divisive factions understand that, the sooner that everyone, including politicians and “community organizers” can be productive by engaging in activities that count for something. A career of whining and protesting doesn’t fall into that category. And while you are gearing up for a meaningful career, consider the ancillary category of Animal rights. They can’t care for themselves and ask very little.

  • Independence

    May 1, 2020 at 6:22 pm

    *Law was unnecessary
    *City Council stopped public comments that other bills normally get
    *City Council didn’t want public to decide
    *search ‘AudacityMovie’

    In the first place, this law was passed when it was totally unnecessary. In the hours upon hours of public comment, we were not shown one example of “discrimination” that this law would solve. Secondly, OUR city leaders rushed the bill through as quickly as possible to try to reduce public knowledge of the issue. They did not even allow public comment at any of the committee meetings. (Reminds me of JEA.) They did not even want to put the bill up for a public vote (ie they knew the people would oppose it).

    Again search for AudacityMovie “Love Can’t Stay Silent”

    • Frankie M.

      May 2, 2020 at 7:38 am

      If they put whether blacks could vote to a referendum they might still be waiting.

      • Independence

        May 2, 2020 at 9:17 pm

        Please Don’t compare those with naturally darker skin shade wanting to not be shot with a water hydrant to a boy wanting to use the women’s restroom because of how he feels.

        • Conscience

          May 7, 2020 at 9:29 am

          I’m going to assume that a boy being in the ladies room is a bad thing because you assume he’s going to creep on them.

          Whether or not trans people could enter the restroom of their choice, it’s illegal to assault someone or creep on them whether or not they are allowed to enter the bathroom. It’s not suddenly legal for an older man to spy on a young boy just because they are both in the men’s room. Hypothetically, if someone who pretends to be a woman to assault someone in a bathroom, there’s already no law to prevent them from entering the bathroom, but the assault is 100% illegal already.

          That being said, I don’t want to downplay the fact that women often feel unsafe in public spaces, but this isn’t a legitimate concern. I was a trans woman stuck in the men’s dorm in college. We had a communal restroom and I have breasts. I was absolutely terrified to shower. Imagine being a woman having to share bathing space with 30 men? Luckily we had shower stalls, bit I was always terrified my bath robe would slip. I spent as much time sleeping over with friends and travelling to school sponsored events as I could. I never spoke to my roommate to never risk him finding anything out about me. This was the same hear a boy was beaten to death at another school for being gay. I was forced to live a double life for my safety. The reality of most trans people’s lives is basically this: blending in for safety to the best of our ability. By the time I had changed my legal name and gender (which is 100% possible on Tallahassee & the state of FL) I was out of the dorms, so I was essentially forced to endure a year of that. Luckily I was able to room with a friend from highschool that knew about my transition after my first semester so I was able to feel like I could be in my dorm at all. Fast forward to the time I graduated and I even had friends that when I told them I was trans thought I was transitioning to be a man, not realizing that I had already transitioned. Being trans is messy, it’s complicated, and trust me it’s dangerous. You have to develop a sixth sense of how people perceive you just to survive, or at least just to feel safe.

          And since you brought it up, Black people also weren’t allowed to use the same public restrooms as everyone else: that’s because access to public restrooms is a very important factor in your access to public life. Bathrooms have long been used to make certain groups of people feel singled out, unsafe, or othered. It’s the same tactic. Black people stand out; so do the trans people that are being targeted. And the ones of us that are most at risk are also black. Also poor. They are the ones that are dying. These aren’t separate issues, they all tie together somewhere.

          • Independence

            May 7, 2020 at 5:10 pm

            Conscience, I appreciate your remarks. I do have a (somewhat strange) question for you though: why is rape wrong?

  • Protecting Liberty, Freedom, Faith

    May 1, 2020 at 11:50 pm

    Comments for Liberty Counsel Attorney reflecting on the decision of the Appellate Court:

    “This decision exposes the deception of the HRO authors and sponsors and rejects the city’s attempt to cover it up with its own deception in the form of clever procedural maneuvers in the city council.

    A city ordinance that cannot be passed openly and honestly is good for no one.

    The fair and honest people of Jacksonville should not be forced to participate in others’ celebrations of same-sex relationships under threat of fines or loss of their businesses, and Jacksonville’s women and young girls should feel safe from predatory men in their own restrooms and facilities.

    We are thankful that the appellate court corrected the trial court’s errors.”

  • Frankie M.

    May 2, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Per Pantazi at the pamphlet…court didn’t explicitly rule on the constitutionality of an anti-discrimination ordinance, just on the enforceability. The court said this wasn’t a proper law because of how it was drafted, so it couldn’t be enforced. The court didn’t support or oppose the idea of an anti-discrimination law around sexual orientation or gender identity.

    The city council passed it a few years ago and the sky hasn’t fallen yet despite the plaintiffs unfounded fears of sexual offenders using it as justification to commit illegal acts. Limited recourse for victims with so many exemptions and loopholes it isn’t even worth fighting this watered down bill. Read the article people before spewing nonsense.

    • Protecting Liberty, Freedom, Faith

      May 2, 2020 at 9:41 am

      Frankie, Frankie, Frankie . . . .

      Who is spewing nonsense?

      You tell people to read the bill . . . but that is impossible.


      And this important Frankie . . . because is was never fully printed out and disclosed in the lawmaking process.

      Simple . . . in this state of the Sunshine Law, in this state where truth and fact must are to be clearly publicized in the lawmaking process . . . the essence of informed decision-making that is key to representative government was intentionally circumvented.

      Another point . . . there were so many inconsistencies and unknowns that City Council deferred the lawmaking process to the Office of the General Counsel . . . completely abdicating and circumventing citizens’ right to know and have input, what is known as The Right to Petition.

      You are clearly a supporter of this bill . . . that takes the action of creating law.

      Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot.

      Imagine, if you will . . . a law was made that outlawed homosexuality but was written and passed in a way where whole sections were not disclosed in the lawmaking process. Or that outlawed drag queens, you choose.

      You would be all over it, like stink on . . . well won’t go there.

      Reality is: the use of subterfuge and deceit brand any law made in such fashion to be a bad law.

      The fact that this law and the manner in which it was created and passed, to create special rights for LGBTQ+++, condemns the law, the authors, and those passed it.

      Why? Because the truth could not dare be let out.

      Cain’t have it both ways . . .

  • Johny Reb "seber" Trump

    May 3, 2020 at 8:40 am

    I will come and speak against this bill, if they try to bring it up again… Why would you want to allow a man, to enter a bathroom with a woman or young girl. why Frankie????? if you are born with male organs you are a man, no matter what you think you are or want to be on any given day…

Comments are closed.


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