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LGBT Anti-Discrimination Legislation To Be Introduced

3:40 PM, May 8, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Anti-Discrimination Legislation will be introduced at the Jacksonville City Council meeting Tuesday.

"I think watching someone debate my rights is very disturbing," said small business owner Tony Caribalities.

Caribalties thinks the legislation banning discrimination against the LGBT community in Jacksonville is long overdue.

"Most people just assumed that discrimination would be outlawed by now, in 2012," he said.

The bill would really only add 6 words to existing legislation.

"Sexual orientation, gender identity or expression" to the list of classes already protected by the city's anti-discrimination statute.

"As an American, I should have the same rights as everyone else. We're not asking for anything special," he said. 

Caribalties said that not having the legislation is actually hurting the city's business prospects.

Business leaders in Jacksonville agree.

The bill has received broad support from the Jax Chamber of Commerce and Florida 100.

"From a plain, old-fashioned business standpoint, you can't handicap yourself that way," said Steve Halverson.

Former Florida Chamber of Commerce Chair Steve Halverson estimates five to ten percent of the workforce in Jacksonville is gay, and, without basic protections, they can't do their job effectively.

"It's important from a business standpoint. It's important from a personal standpoint, and it's simply the right thing to do,' he said.

Halverson said the city has never voted on this type of legislation before, and elected leaders have been vague about its prospects.

First Coast News tried to contact every city council member, and with the exception of the bill's sponsor, Warren Jones, not one wanted to go on the record with their position on the bill.

Mayor Alvin Brown, who was previously quiet on whether he will sign the bill if it passes City Council, did finally release a statement saying: "I will fight discrimination in any form in our city, and I will consider any effort that makes Jacksonville a safer and better place for people to live and work." 

"It's more the frustration that it's even an issue. That people have to debate things. That people have to vote on things. When all we're talking about is equal rights," said Caribalties.

First Coast News

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