JACKSONVILLE: Gay Rights Bill Fails
By a vote of 10-9, today the Jacksonville City Council rejected a bill to protect gay residents from housing and employment discrimination. Seven of the "yes" votes came only after transgender protections had been stripped from the original bill.
The city’s human rights ordinance already bans discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age or disability. City Councilman Warren Jones filed a bill in May adding sexual orientation. He later amended the bill by deleting language that gave protection based on “gender identity” and “gender expression.” Equality Florida, a group that advocates anti-discrimination laws, objected to the watered down bill because it eliminated protection for transgender individuals and would allow discrimination based on gender stereotypes.Prior to tonight's vote, the City Council had heard hours of the typically repulsive testimony we've seen here so many, many times. Local Christian activists had vowed to unseat the entire council were the bill to have passed.
But the change picked up support from council members who otherwise were inclined to oppose the bill. The 10-9 vote was against the substitute legislation put forward by Jones. The failure to amend the bill forced a second vote on the original bill filed by Jones. Council rejected it 17-2 with only Jones and Councilwoman Denise Lee in favor. The bill’s opponents said it will force people to compromise their moral beliefs. They also questioned whether the amount of discrimination against gays and lesbians rises to the level of requiring the government to become involved in the day-to-day affairs of businesses.