Tonight by a vote of 17 to 2, the Jacksonville City Council voted to reject bill 2012-296 - a fully-inclusive measure that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance (HRO).
Before the final vote, several attempts were made to amend the bill by stripping out gender identity protections - all of which failed. In the end, bill sponsor Warren Jones and Denise Lee were the only two members of the council who voted in favor of the fully inclusive final bill.
We are proud to have worked side-by-side with thoses who dedicated years in pursuing full equality in Jacksonville. From the volunteers leading the Jacksonville Committee for Equality and the business leaders who lobbied and took out full page ads calling for both sexual orientation and gender identity to be added to the Councilmembers who pledged their immediate support to a bill that would leave no one behind. And we will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the trenches.
We stand resolved with the hundreds who have crowded council chambers and overcome fear to tell their stories and had to endure the vile and hateful rhetoric of those who oppose any protection for the LGBT community. Even before the vote, the courage of ordinary people and the visible support from business, faith community leaders alike have changed the political and cultural landscape forever. They called the question and the majority of Jacksonville lined up on the side of equality.
Below is an excerpt from a statement issued by local leadership team, the Jacksonville Committee for Equality:
We will continue the conversations that we began with those who voted against the bill tonight. We believe that given more time and discussion, we will be able to persuade a majority of the City Council of the great need to pass a Human Rights Ordinance amendment that covers sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
For the past two years, the LGBT community and our allies have grown a grassroots political network that has made the issues, concerns, and status of the LGBT community a part of the civic discourse in Jacksonville. We will continue to nurture and grow our political network and will return to the City Council as many times as is necessary until justice is done.