JACKSONVILLE – Three months after a proposed gay rights ordinance was considered by the Jacksonville City Council, the members remain divided about the measure, which would add “sexual orientation” to the city’s anti-discrimination rules in housing, employment, and public accommodations. The original measure would have added “gender identity” and “expression” to those recognized protected categories, including race, color, disability, and age.
Although two committees approved a substitute measure that leaves “sexual orientation” in the code, and provides exemptions for churches and religious institutions, a third voted down the amended bill, which also limits monetary damages for victims. LGBT advocates especially oppose this last part.
Conservatives also condemned the measure as an attack on Florida’s marriage laws. “Jacksonville residents will not be fooled about the real intent and purpose of this ordinance,” said John Stemberger, head of the Florida Family Policy Council. “Full legalized gay marriage is the goal of its proponents.”