Target: Jacksonville City Council
Goal: Provide equal protection from discrimination for LGBT members of the community.
Recently in Jacksonville, locals swarmed to the city council office and engaged in heated debates about proposed legislation which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Confronted with citizens standing on both sides of the issue, lawmakers ended discussions with a spectacular dud, failing to reach any consensus one way or another. Human rights activists, the LGBT community, and other Jacksonville citizens fear the bill may fade into obscurity behind upcoming annual budget legislation meetings. This must not be allowed to happen. Jacksonville LGBT members deserve equal treatment and protection from discriminatory treatment.
The bill, filed by city councilman Warren Jones, revises current anti-discrimination laws to include “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” as traits which are to be protected along with commonly accepted categories of race, religion, age, etc. Specifically, the LGBT community would be protected from discrimination at work, from housing centers or landlords and at restaurants and hotels. The Jacksonville Human Rights Commission is also called upon in the bill to encourage equal and fair treatment in the workplace as a “basic right” granted to all citizens regardless of sexual orientation or identity.
Of America’s 70 largest cities, Jacksonville is one of only four which have not already passed such legislation. Heavy criticism from Christian groups represent much of the opposing view, although some business leaders have also expressed concern that the bill would violate their rights as employers. This is ludicrous. It is not any person’s nor any employer’s right to infringe upon the rights of others, no matter the differences in worldview. A law which prohibits discrimination does not impose a value system on anyone; quite the opposite. In fact, it provides a freedom from such impositions.
Support for the bill during the city debates was widespread and overwhelmingly outnumbered opposing attendees. And yet in late May and now in late June, council members have failed twice to reach a vote on the issue. The LGBT community should not even have to have their right to equal protection be decided by vote, but an even worse fate is having to watch and wait for a consensus. Sign this petition and demand that the Jacksonville City Council reach a decision on this bill, recognizing LGBT citizens as equally protected under the law.
Dear Jacksonville City Council,
Twice now, you have failed to reach a decision on Human Rights Ordinance 296. And yet members of your community, both LGBT citizens and others, have demonstrated overwhelming support for passage of this law. Before the bill becomes lost in the entrails of 2013 budget discussions in mid-July, reconvene and demonstrate a commitment to equality and anti-discrimination by passing Bill 296.
Jacksonville is one of only four of America’s largest 70 cities which has not passed such legislation. This reflects negatively on Jacksonville as a member of the American community at large, which has evidently aligned U.S. Constitutional values with the values championed in local communities. Why is this not so in Jacksonville?
LGBT individuals must be recognized as having the same rights to equal protection from unjust discrimination as other categorical qualities, such as race or religion. Pass Human Rights Ordinance 296 and join the rest of this nation in guaranteeing liberty and justice for all.
[Your Name Here]