Monday, June 18, 2012

Updates on Jacksonville’s Proposed Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

The City Council of Jacksonville, Florida is currently considering Human Rights Ordinance 296, a provision which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ordinance would alter the wording in an existing anti-discrimination bill to include LGBT people and protect them from discrimination in housing, employment, and access to private business. The provision has been debated in Jacksonville City Council meetings, but has not yet been voted on. 

Opponents of the law say that it would jeopardize the liberty of business owners and faith leaders. Attorney Roger Gannum claims that the law would force people to give “their stamp of approval for a behavior that they have a disagreement with.” Other opponents, including District 4 Senate candidate Aaron Bean, say that the bill would open up companies to a flood of lawsuits.

Despite these claims, businesses have expressed their support for the ordinance. The Jacksonville Civic Council, composed of 55 corporations and about 41,000 employees in the city, took out a full-page ad in the Florida Times-Union in support of the bill and commented that the provision will create a “business-friendly” environment in Jacksonville. Also, 87-percent of Fortune 500 companies have policies which ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 46-percent also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Major businesses seem to agree that anti-discrimination policies increase productivity and foster economic growth. Jacksonville remains the largest city in Florida without an anti-discrimination ordinance that includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and people are worried that this will hinder economic investment.

In addition to businesses, 25 religious leaders in Jacksonville have also expressed their support for Human Rights Ordinance 296. The coalition sent a letter to Mayor Alvin Brown urging him to support the provision. “We believe that it is inherently unfair to leave a segment of Jacksonville’s citizens open to being fired, denied housing, or denied services in public venues based solely on the fact that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender,” the letter said.

Take Action: Current City Council President Stephen Joost says that he expects the ordinance to be voted on in the next two weeks, though he has not stated his opinion for or against the ordinance. If you live in Jacksonville, it is critical that you express your support for Human Rights Ordinance 296 by clicking here, and let the City Council know that you are against LGBT workplace discrimination.

The debates surrounding Human Rights Ordinance 296 resemble similar arguments for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which was presented in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Tuesday. ENDA would prohibit employment discrimination against LGBT people across the nation. Please read more about ENDA today, and tell your Members of Congress that you support equality in the workplace by clicking here.


Aaron said...

I hope there are available information about this ordinance even on a pocket folder printing. It doesn't need to have all the explanation in it, just the key points would be enough.

Jordan Marcus said...

Discrimination at this day and age is something that is surprisingly still palpable in some communities. It would be best to address this and make realistic target planning for its advocacy campaigns in terms of financial and manpower aspect.

Michael Ryan said...

Much of the discrimination stems from the school. At this point, this should be addressed, not just with information and advocacy campaigns but also re-education of students as to why this trait be avoided and its impact on learning.

August Wilson said...

Discrimination is one of the triggers that teenagers turn to gangs and fraternities. These are groups that help them build their reputation and gives them the sense of security, especially in a school where bullying based on discrimination is rampant. It is important for school officials not just to advocate this ordinance, it is also important to keep an eye on the teenagers.

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