Mayor Lenny Curry said Wednesday he’ll sign legislation that would replace a 2017 law banning discrimination against gay and transgender people that was recently struck down by a Florida appeals court, the strongest statement of support he’s made on the divisive issue that has unexpectedly resurfaced at City Hall.
When the City Council debated the 2017 legislation that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the city’s human rights ordinance, Curry avoided taking a position and allowed it to become law without his signature after the council passed it.
On Wednesday, a reporter with Florida Politics asked Curry what he would do if the council passed legislation to replace the law that has been ruled unenforceable. Curry said since the law has been in place for several years and was struck down on a technicality, he would sign its replacement into law if it came to his desk.
The issue made a surprise return this month after the 1st District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based group that sued the city to strike down the law.
The court didn’t find any problems with the content of the law. Instead, the court found the city violated local and state laws by failing to include the language of each section of the city’s existing anti-discrimination law that was changed - the legislation simply said sexual orientation and gender identity would be added to every section of the law that listed the protected classes.
The council took the first step towards voting on the replacement legislation Tuesday night by hearing public comment from dozens of supporters and opponents of the issue. The council could make a final vote on the legislation as early as next month.
Curry joined other local organizations, like the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the Jacksonville Civic Council, that have voiced their support for the new legislation, although it’s unclear whether the legislation has enough support to pass the council.
Six of the 12 council members who approved the law in 2017 have left the council. And with the issue seemingly behind the city, candidates were not asked to share their views on the issue.
Council members will have the first chance to speak on the issue next when the legislation is reviewed by three committees. If it clears each of the hearings, it will be ready for a final vote on June 16.