On Tuesday night, the Jacksonville City Council passed LGBT rights legislation for the second time in three and a half years.
The 2020 passage was necessary to correct an appeals court ruling pointing out flaws in how the bill was presented in 2017.
But unlike that pitched debate, which came after a five year process of false starts, this year’s 15-4 vote was a formality.
No Council members spoke on the bill before passage.
In three City Council committees, 13 of the 19 members of the Council voted for the current measure, which clarifies code references that were deemed to be less than fully fleshed out.
Despite the need to pass the bill again, it’s effectively the same product: an expanded Human Rights Ordinance that protects housing, jobs, and public accommodations for people, regardless of their sexual identities.
The bill passed 12-6 in 2017, approved by a City Council that has seen change in membership since. There have been few claims brought up since.
Republican Mayor Lenny Curry did not back the legislation, which became law without his signature. This year, however, he has vowed to sign the bill.
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.
But this time around, he is more pliable.
“The HRO is back because of a technicality in the law,” Curry said last month. “The bill has been law for a number of years. I’ll sign the bill if the City Council corrects the technicality.”
Jacksonville had one of the worst ratings for LGBT rights in a major city before the HRO passed, according to the Human Rights Campaign, but great strides have been made since.
A rating of 23 out of 100 in 2015 surged to 79 out of 100 in 2019.