Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council Sides Emerge in City's LGBT Debate; Hazouri, Bowman Back Expanded HRO; Gulliford, Carter, a Referendum

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council Sides Emerge in City's LGBT Debate; Hazouri, Bowman Back Expanded HRO; Gulliford, Carter, a Referendum

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

As the Jacksonville City Council prepares to enter the fray over the city's anti-discrimination law, two City Council members are on record supporting legislation that would fully cover LGBT people.

And two council members are supporting rival legislation that would send the whole matter to voters in a referendum.

Those bills will be formally introduced during the Tuesday City Council meeting, setting the wheels in motion for a debate that will unfold at special meetings of the full council on Feb. 4, Feb. 18 and March 3.

City Councilman Tommy Hazouri's bill for the City Council to expand the city's law to fully cover lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has backing from City Councilman Aaron Bowman as a co-sponsor.

City Councilman Bill Gulliford's bill calling for a voter referendum to decide the issue has picked up support from City Councilman Doyle Carter as a co-sponsor.

The other 15 City Council members will be making up their minds during the special meetings that will be devoted entirely to the question of expanding local anti-discrimination law to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, which supports expanding the law to fully cover LGBT people, trumpeted Monday that 102 religious leaders have signed on as supporters of the expansion.

"When one of our sisters or brothers suffers from not having basic human rights, then we all suffer," the Rev. William Hamilton, pastor of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, said during a noontime event at Klutho Park in Springfield.

He said the faith tradition is full of stories in which people are "called to step out of comfort zones to provide radical hospitality to all people. This is one of those times."

The list of supporters released Monday includes a handful of rabbis. …

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