Gay Backers Questioning Mayor's Word; Brown Is Mum on Bill Banning Sex Orientation Discrimination

By Gibbons, Timothy J. | The Florida Times Union, May 4, 2012 | Go to article overview

Gay Backers Questioning Mayor's Word; Brown Is Mum on Bill Banning Sex Orientation Discrimination


Gibbons, Timothy J., The Florida Times Union


Byline: Timothy J. Gibbons

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown won't take a position on City Council legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, although supporters remember candidate Brown strongly favoring such a bill.

Brown refused to comment Thursday night because he said he hasn't seen the recently introduced ordinance.

"It's such an important issue I don't want to speculate or assume anything," Brown said during a brief conversation following an appearance at a parade for the Jacksonville Giants.

When provided a description of the bill - it expands the list of protected classes by six words - Brown said that wasn't enough for him to form an opinion.

"It's got to come to council," he said. "I haven't seen it. I don't want to speculate."

But some of those who supported Brown's campaign last year remember a much different answer when he was asked on the trail about expanding the anti-discrimination ordinance.

"That's the reason I voted for him, one of the main reasons," said Jack Slaughter, who played host to a Brown fundraiser attended mainly by gay and lesbian supporters. "As a supporter that gave him money, I think it's a big deal."

Slaughter's nephew, Adam Beaugh, has similar memories, both of the fundraiser and of earlier conversations.

Beaugh worked for mayoral candidate Audrey Moran, and when she lost in the first round of voting, met with Brown's campaign. Beaugh said he asked about the ordinance right off the bat and was told Brown supported it.

"He straight up said it would be a priority for his administration," Beaugh said. "He made it sound like he'd go to the City Council members and try to convince them to support it."

They are not alone in those memories. In a blog post about the impact lesbian, gay and bisexual voters had on Brown's victory, Equality Florida Field Director Joe Saunders singles out the candidate's support of the issue as a reason Brown won.

"Brown's position supporting an inclusive human rights ordinance banning discrimination against LGBT's was a motivating clarion call," he writes.

The bill filed Wednesday updates the city's anti-discrimination laws by adding the phrase "sexual orientation, gender identity or expression" to the list of things - race, gender, age religion, nationality - that are specifically forbidden as grounds for discrimination. It would protect people in situations involving employment, housing and service at places like restaurants and hotels. …

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