For the third time in five years, the Jacksonville (Florida) City Council is set to consider an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance.
Jacksonville is the second-largest city in the nation, behind Houston, with no law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Most recently, a proposed Human Rights Ordinance was withdrawn last March amid fierce opposition from social conservatives and a lack of support among council members.
At 5 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the latest version of the HRO, which is now scheduled for a final vote Feb. 14. Watch the hearing live below.
At a hearing two weeks ago, supporters of the ordinance outnumbered opponents 2-to-1, according to Florida Politics:
The rhetoric got heated 20 minutes in, with an opponent saying the bill was about “special privileges to a deviant group,” with duped council members “deviously holding the door open … to destruction of our society.” … Christian right activist Raymond Johnson soon thereafter claimed HRO passage was a public safety issue due to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS in the LGBT community, renaming the bill a “homosexual superiority ordinance.” Another opponent discussed sexual assault, and the prospect of a “high school football player feeling feminine and taking a shower in the girls’ locker room,” indulging in “perverted pleasures.” An impassioned gentleman noted that if his three year old son married a man, his blood line would cease to exist.
More from WJCT News:
The bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of already protected factors, including religion and race.
Republicans Jim Love and Aaron Bowman are sponsoring it along with Democrat Tommy Hazouri.
“It’s an issue that’s past due,” Hazouri said. “It’s something that should have been done yesterday. Really what it’s about is a statement of who we are. All we’re asking is that we do the same thing that we’re doing now for everybody in Jacksonville except for the LGBT community.”
One of the most prominent opponents of the ordinance, Pastor Ken Adkins, was recently arrested on charges of child molestation involving a young male at his church.
It’s unclear whether the ordinance has the 10 votes needed to pass the council, Florida Politics reports. Mayor Lenny Curry hasn’t said whether he would veto the ordinance, which would require 13 votes to overturn.