Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reverend Reverses Course, Helps Group; after Opposing an LGBT Law, He Worked with the Human Rights Campaign

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reverend Reverses Course, Helps Group; after Opposing an LGBT Law, He Worked with the Human Rights Campaign

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

A Jacksonville pastor who reversed his high-profile opposition to expanding the city's anti-discrimination laws has done paid consulting work for the Human Rights Campaign, a national organization that works to get protection for LGBT people in city laws.

The Rev. R.L. Gundy said the consulting work had no bearing on him deciding to support adding LGBT people to Jacksonville's anti-discrimination laws.

"It had nothing to do with the stance I took," Gundy said.

He said his change since 2012 stems in part from the anguish he experienced when a member of Mount Sinai Baptist Church contracted HIV and Gundy visited him at the hospital.

"I changed my mind when this young man in my church died from AIDS and he felt he couldn't come home to the church," Gundy said.

Gundy said it convinced him that societal attitudes toward LGBT people need to change, a message he said he's shared with his congregation.

"If you can't talk to your pastor, you can't talk to anybody," Gundy said.

Gundy's work with the Human Rights Campaign was done through his business, which is called Leadership Consultants LLC.

The Human Rights Campaign paid $10,000 in consulting fees for the firm to bring together four meetings in spring 2014 as part of an outreach to religious leaders, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

About two years before that, Gundy spoke against adding LGBT people to the city's anti-discrimination law when City Council rejected that proposal in 2012.

But as city leaders consider a second attempt at changing the law, a news release issued last week by the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality included Gundy among the religious leaders who support expanding Jacksonville's anti-discrimination laws.

"It's time for the city to move forward," Gundy said in a Times-Union story that ran Thursday.

After that article ran, the Times-Union obtained a document dated Jan. 9, 2014, that Gundy drafted as an offer to contract with the Human Rights Campaign for a wide array of public relations and strategic "action plans."

Gundy said the Human Rights Campaign never agreed to the terms he offered in the document at a cost of at least $40,000. …

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