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Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce wants gay-rights law passed again

An appeals court threw the law out.

The status of Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance, which protects jobs, housing, and bathroom access for LGBT people, is currently up in the air after an adverse court ruling.

Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal sided with plaintiffs challenging the legislation earlier this month, and the Chamber of Commerce, which backed the legislation last decade, wants the Jacksonville City Council to reaffirm it.

“Making sure that everyone in our community is protected from discrimination is and always will be a top priority for the Chamber,” JAX Chamber Chair Henry Brown said Thursday, after the Chamber board voted unanimously to take the position.

“Passing the HRO in 2017 told everyone outside the community what we already know – that we are an inclusive, welcoming community where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. We support the effort to correct this technical issue and pass the legislation as intended three years ago.”

The bill passed 12-6 in 2017, approved by a City Council that has seen change in membership since, shepherded along by a business community that realized the legislation needed to pass so Jacksonville would not lose competitive advantage in corporate recruitment.

Cure legislation is headed to Council committees next week, with the full Council to then hear the bill.

The law hasn’t been a big talker in Jacksonville in the three years since it passed, as advocates, including former Council President Aaron Bowman and current Vice President Tommy Hazouri have been quick to point out.

However, the discussion of LGBT rights leading up to the bill’s ratification was as fractious as anything since school integration last century, and there are expectations that the religious right may attempt to derail reratification.

General Counsel Jason Gabriel decried the appeals court ruling as “mind-boggling” and “bizarre,” but LGBT rights groups, as well as those on the right, have rallied their partisans in preparation for a showdown over cure legislation in the coming weeks.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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