Gainesville Human Rights Protections Under Attack

Transgender Equal Rights Law Challengers submit 8,600 Signatures
Gainesville Sun, 7/30/2008

If it passes, the referendum would make the city's anti-discrimination policy the same as the state of Florida's civil rights act - thus eliminating both the terms "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" from the list of protected groups.

The signatures still must be verified by the supervisor's office within the next 45 days to ensure they were authentically signed by registered voters living within the Gainesville city limits.

"The sexual orientation, that's been on the books for 10 years, and we've never mounted a campaign to oppose it," said Jim Gilbert, who assisted the group Citizens for Good Public Policy in collecting signatures. "But the City Commission in creating the gender identity category ... they connected it with the sexual orientation portion. Obviously we don't want to mount a campaign that targets one group, we want to be even-handed."

Those who have spent the past 90 days collecting signatures to get the issue on the ballot insist it is not a movement against the rights of gay and lesbian individuals, but rather a desire to repeal protections for transgender individuals that were passed by the City Commission in January.

City Commissioner Craig Lowe, who has been a vocal opponent to the petition drive, said that regardless of intent, the effect will be to legalize discrimination of individuals based on their sexual orientation.

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