Jacksonville Approves LGBT Protections

By: On Top Magazine, Carlos Santoscoy

Jacksonville on Tuesday became the latest Florida municipality to approve an ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to The Florida Times-Union, the ordinance went into effect on Valentine’s Day after Mayor Lenny Curry allowed it to become law without his signature.

The legislation was first proposed nearly five years ago.

“I feel really good, not just for myself but for this city,” Councilman Tommy Hazouri told the Times-Union. “It speaks to the very heart of what our city is about, and when tomorrow’s historians write about Jacksonville, their retrospect now is going to be a shining new chapter.”

Small businesses with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from the law’s workplace protections, while religious organizations are entirely exempt. A religious organization might include a school, emergency shelter or hospital run by a church.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT rights group, called the exemptions “troubling.”

“This new ordinance misses the mark by singling out LGBTQ people for fewer protections than any other protected group,” HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse said in a statement. “Progress shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of full and equal protections under the law.”