Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Large Crowd, Competing Views at City Rights Hearing; City Council Considers Ordinance Extending LGBT Protections

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Large Crowd, Competing Views at City Rights Hearing; City Council Considers Ordinance Extending LGBT Protections

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Hong

As the Jacksonville City Council considers extending discrimination protections to the LGBT community, a massive crowd of supporters and opponents packed City Hall beyond capacity on Tuesday to speak at a public hearing on the issue.

While the council didn't vote or discuss the legislation at the meeting, over a thousand people came to voice their position in what was the largest showing for a council meeting in recent memory.

Local organizations on both sides rallied their supporters to attend in hopes that a strong showing could perhaps sway council members on the issue that has been debated in Jacksonville for years.

First Baptist Church Pastor Mac Brunson sent an email to parishioners urging them to tell the council "that Christians don't support" the legislation. On the other side, the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, a leading advocacy group for the protections, also mobilized their followers.

The result: a crowd large enough to fill the council chambers and overflow rooms, prompting officials to limit entry to City Hall on a one in, one out basis. Those stopped at the door either waited outside or went to the nearby Main Library downtown to watch the meeting on a live video feed.

The number of speakers for each side was not available by press time. The meeting was expected to last until as late as midnight.

The legislation, which is referred to as the Human Rights Ordinance or HRO, would extend the city's antiudiscrimination law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It contains provisions that exempt religious organizations or businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

The council considered similar legislation last year before its sponsor, Councilman Tommy Hazouri, withdrew the bill before it could be voted on. The council also considered similar legislation in 2012.

Jacksonville remains one of the last major cities without discrimination protections for LGBT people, and supporters of the law say it's past time for the protections to be extended to all residents. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.