Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Wednesday addressed the City Council’s reconsideration of gay rights legislation he didn’t support when enacted in 2017, saying he’d act differently this time.
While he opposed legislation as a candidate and as a first-term Mayor, he said that if the Council passes the bill, he will sign the law.
“The HRO is back because of a technicality in the law,” Curry said. “The bill has been law for a number of years. I’ll sign the bill if the City Council corrects the technicality.
When the Human Rights Ordinance expansion was passed in 2017, Curry, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, let the bill become law without his signature, contending the legislation was not necessary because the city didn’t discriminate.
The legislation protected jobs, housing, and restroom access for the LGBT community, and it had seemed a settled issue until the appeals court ruling.
But in 2020, an appeals court ruled the process under which the law was passed was improper.
His handpicked general counsel, Jason Gabriel, questioned the highly-technical ruling and suggested that cure legislation, of the sort currently in play, would be one potential remedy.
Curry won in 2015 over a Democratic Mayor who some say sandbagged equal rights legislation early in his only term. However, in debates with Brown, he stressed that he did not support the legislation.
Meanwhile, Curry’s evolution on the bill will set up another round of opprobrium from the religious right, which lacerated him for not killing the bill in 2017.
They noted that Curry, in 2015, wrote that the HRO “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.”
With the Mayor, a former chair of the Republican Party of Florida, willing to sign the bill, it seems clear that the city has seen a sea change on LGBT rights in the last few years, and that there is no going back.