Historic LGBTQ-Inclusive Non-Discrimination Ordinance Passed in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Jacksonville City Council expanded upon an existing Human Rights Ordinance to include protections for the city’s LGBTQ community.

The city council of Jacksonville, Fla. on Tuesday decided in a 12-6 vote to ban discrimination against its residents based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

The council’s ruling expands upon an existing city ordinance, which only barred discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status or familial status.

“After years of hard work and courageous advocacy, Jacksonville has sent a clear message to Florida and the entire country that discrimination of any kind is wrong and that LGBTQ people are welcomed and accepted,” said Amber Paoloemilio, field director of Equality Florida.

Over the last five years, personal stories from LGBTQ people, business owners and faith leaders have helped transform Jacksonville public opinion on LGBTQ issues, changing hearts and minds. Based on a 2015 poll conducted by the University of North Florida, over 62 percent of voters support this important addition to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance.

LGBTQ equality groups like Equality Florida and the Jacksonville Coalition For Equality (JCE) are applauding the efforts of over 10,000 Jacksonville residents who voiced their support for this improved measure. The LGBTQ community, alongside a coalition of over 700 small businesses and 200 faith leaders, demonstrated the urgent need for inclusive non-discrimination protections so that everyone in Jacksonville, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the opportunity to earn a living and provide for their families.

“As a transgender woman, I applaud the efforts of the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, Equality Florida, and the Jacksonville City Council for helping our city take an important step today,” said Tricia Russell, Statewide Equality Florida board member and longtime Jacksonville resident. “Transgender people face a disproportionate amount of discrimination and harassment in our community and our state. This law will help ensure that all people, regardless if they are gay or transgender, will have the opportunity to earn a living, rent a hotel room, or go to a restaurant without fear of being discriminated against.”

“As a transgender woman, I applaud the efforts of the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, Equality Florida, and the Jacksonville City Council for helping our city take an important step today. Transgender people face a disproportionate amount of discrimination and harassment in our community and our state. This law will help ensure that all people, regardless if they are gay or transgender, will have the opportunity to earn a living, rent a hotel room, or go to a restaurant without fear of being discriminated against.” —Tricia Russell, Statewide Equality Florida board member and longtime Jacksonville resident.

The council did pass a separate amendment that specified that federally-defined religious organizations would be exempt from the LGBTQ-related applications of this ordinance. Equality Florida said in a statement that, “We are committed to working with the team on the ground, from small business owners to faith leaders, to fix this part of the ordinance and ensure full and equal protections for LGBTQ people.”

“As we celebrate the passage of an updated Human Rights Ordinance, we do so knowing that while this bill is not perfect, it is a historic step to ensure that all Jacksonville residents can live, work, and play in this great city without the threat of discrimination. I feel confident that the residents of Jacksonville and the City Council will use the incredible energy and passion from our supporters to continue advocating for truly equal protection under the law,” Paoloemilio added.

 


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