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Jacksonville City Council to pass gay rights law for the second time

Committees hearing, approving the cure legislation.

The Jacksonville City Council is on track to reenact LGBT rights legislation recently called into question, with two committees moving the bill Tuesday.

The Human Rights Ordinance expansion of 2017 protected jobs, housing, and restroom access for the LGBT community, and it had seemed a settled issue until an appeals court ruling required cure legislation.

After a public hearing on the bill last week, in which proponents outnumbered opponents, the final City Council committee of reference (Rules) moved the bill forward by a 6-1 vote. It will likely be passed Tuesday by the full legislative body.

“The current legislation was improperly adopted,” a city lawyer said, “still on the books, but in essence, unenforceable.”

Passing the bill would make the litigation moot, he added, an explanation that seemed to suffice for most of the panel.

There was likewise little suspense in Finance, where it passed 7-0 earlier in the day. The chair, Aaron Bowman, is a Republican who vowed to get legislation passed as a candidate in 2015, and who has not relented since.

Bowman, who bucked the Republican Party locally in taking a strong anti-discrimination stance, noted that this was the third time in five years the bill came up.

“I heard and witnessed stuff that I never want to hear or listen to again,” Bowman said, but it was worth it to bring businesses here, a “three-year success story.”

The cure bill does a “better job of codifying” the stipulations, Bowman noted.

Should the bill pass the full City Council as expected next Tuesday, it will be signed by a previously reluctant Mayor Lenny Curry.

Curry, who opposed previous iterations of the legislation as he thought it was unnecessary, told Florida Politics last week he would sign it.

“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.

Though worries were great that there would be a torrent of actions after that bill became law, that hasn’t happened.

The legislation has seen a smattering of cases in housing and employment law, though nothing regarding public accomodations such as locker rooms and bathrooms.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. 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 a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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