Florida: Jacksonville Passes LGBTQ Protections AGAIN

For the second time, the City Council of Jacksonville, Florida, approved adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination ordinance.

This is the second time the City Council has approved the legislative move.

Back in 2017, when the amendments were initially approved by a vote of 12-6, the virulently anti-LGBTQ law group the Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit to overturn the human rights protections.

Because, of course, they did.

Last month, the Liberty Counsel won its lawsuit in the First District Court of Appeals based on a ‘legislative technicality.’

The court didn’t rule on the issue of discrimination against LGBTQs in the areas of housing, employment or public accommodations. Instead, the victory came because the city didn’t follow a strict procedure that requires a period of public notification about the changes to the ordinance.

When the amendments were announced, the city listed the 28 sections of the non-discrimination ordinance that would be amended and noted that the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” would be added.

“Section 2. Amending Sections 60.105, 400.101, 400.301, 402.102, 402.107(g)(1), 402.107(g)(3), 402.201, 402.202, 402.203, 402.204, 402.206, 402.210, 402.211, 406.102, 406.104(g)(1), 406.104(g)(3), 406.201, 408.102, 408.204, 408.401, 408.402, 408.403, 408.404, 408.406, and 408.407, Ordinance Code.”

“The foregoing sections of the Ordinance Code are hereby amended as follows: wherever protected categories are listed, that sexual orientation and gender identity, as defined in Section 3 below, shall be added to the list.”

But according to state law, such changes require the re-publishing of the full text of the Ordinance Code with the new language inserted.

The appellate court panel of judges voted 3-0 in favor of the Liberty Counsel’s argument.

At the time, the Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver gloated over the ruling writing, “The citizen plaintiffs were injured by the city’s deceptive practice in presenting the HRO for passage, and that this deceptive practice of not revealing the intent and scope of the law invalidates it.”

And so, on Tuesday, the Jacksonville City Council essentially approved the exact same amendments to the Ordinance Code making sure to cross every ’T’ and dot every ‘I.’

Florida Politics reports the vote was treated as such a formality that no council members spoke on the bill before passage.

In 2015, Jacksonville had one of the worst ratings on LGBTQ rights in a major city, according to the Human Rights Campaign, garnering a low 23 out of 100.

Since adding the protections, the city now scores a 79 out of 100.

In related news, the Republican National Committee has announced Jacksonville will host Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for reelection.

It’s hard to overlook the irony that a city so dedicated to protecting LGBTQ citizens will now play host to a president who has repeatedly attacked that same community in so many ways including allowing adoption agencies to deny placement of children with gay couples, banning transgender people from serving in the military, opposing The Equality Act, and urging the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to reverse Obama-era policies of protecting LGBTQ people in the workplace.

But the GOP, in an announcement so laughable it borders on parody, recently declared Trump has “taken unprecedented steps to protect the LGBTQ community.”

Stop, stop – oh, my sides…ROTFL

News Round-Up: June 11, 2020

Me and my high school buddy Addester Williams at Voodoo in Las Vegas

Some news items you might have missed:

Throwback Thursday: Amid all this turmoil in the country, I loved chatting with my high school doll Addester (above) last night who came to visit Las Vegas in February. A fun night at Chippendales, and then cocktails at VooDoo on the roof of The Rio. #GoodTimes

LGBTQ Nation: In May, haters succeeded in striking down LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections passed by the city of Jacksonville, Florida, on a ‘legislative technicality.’ So, this week the City Council voted to restore those protections – correcting the ‘technicalities’ – by a vote of 15-4.

AP News: In related Jacksonville news, the city has been selected to host the celebration marking President Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for reelection, the Republican National Committee chairwoman said Thursday.

The Advocate: Residents of Ketchikan, Alaska, have rallied around a same-sex couple denied flowers for their wedding by a local florist. Although the couple had wanted to support a local business, they have now ordered flowers from a Safeway supermarket. Supporters of the couple have donated hundreds of dollars to pay for the flowers. The couple plans to give any leftover funds to charity.

The Hill: Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a narrow lead over Donald Trump in Florida, according to a new poll released by Republican polling firm Cygnal on Thursday. The survey shows Biden with 47 percent support among likely voters in the Sunshine State as Trump trails by roughly 3 points at around 44 percent.

CNBC: The Labor Department reports unemployment claims last week totaled 1.54 million. Since the pandemic began, more than 44 million workers have filed claims.

Reuters: The United States surpassed 2 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, as rising hospitalizations in states such as Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina prompt fears about reopening the country. The U.S. has now reported nearly 113,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Health authorities in Texas on Wednesday reported a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the third consecutive day. #SoMuchWinning

 

Florida: Haters Advance In Attempt To Reverse LGBTQ Rights In Jacksonville

(image via VisitJacksonville.com)

For years, the city of Jacksonville, Florida, had a terrible track record when it came to LGBTQ rights in the city.

In 2015, for example, the Human Rights Campaign rated Jacksonville a 23 out of a possible 100 in terms of LGBTQ rights and protections.

Since the city expanded its Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) to include sexual orientation and gender identity in early 2017, the HRC rating has improved to 79 out of 100.

But now, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal has sided with a handful of anti-LGBTQ activists that want to see the HRO reversed on a technicality.

Florida Politics reports that the appellate court ruled unanimously 3-0 that the lawsuit filed by virulently anti-LGBTQ law group Liberty Counsel should be allowed to move forward after being dismissed twice by lower courts.

Jason Gabriel, the city’s head lawyer in the office of General Counsel, called the decision a “mindboggling” and “bizarre” appeals court ruling against the local LGBTQ protections and vowed to fight to defend the law. “It’s a hyper-technical ruling with some bizarre findings,” said Gabriel.

The decision from the three-judge panel mainly hinged on how language was presented in the initial public notices about how the existing HRO would be amended.

When the amendments were being considered in 2017, the sections of the local Ordinance Code that would be affected were listed and then followed with instructions to add sexual orientation and gender identity to those sections.

“Section 2. Amending Sections 60.105, 400.101, 400.301, 402.102, 402.107(g)(1), 402.107(g)(3), 402.201, 402.202, 402.203, 402.204, 402.206, 402.210, 402.211, 406.102, 406.104(g)(1), 406.104(g)(3), 406.201, 408.102, 408.204, 408.401, 408.402, 408.403, 408.404, 408.406, and 408.407, Ordinance Code.”

“The foregoing sections of the Ordinance Code are hereby amended as follows: wherever protected categories are listed, that sexual orientation and gender identity, as defined in Section 3 below, shall be added to the list.”

The amendments also added specific definitions for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

Sounds pretty straight forward, yes? Everyone concerned understood what and how the changes were to the HRO.

But the Liberty Counsel held that all 25 sections of the Ordinance Code that were affected by the amendments should have been written out in full text showing the insertion of the new language.

The appellate court agreed on that very narrow legal view saying the process “violated governing principles of notice and due process.”

And so, the Liberty Counsel won its reversal on previous rulings and is now allowed to further proceedings in trying to overturn the LGBTQ protections.

Mat Staver of the anti-LGBTQ Liberty Counsel

In a press release, the Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver gloated over the ruling writing, “The citizen plaintiffs were injured by the city’s deceptive practice in presenting the HRO for passage, and that this deceptive practice of not revealing the intent and scope of the law invalidates it.”

Gabriel disagreed with the appeals court telling Florida Politics that “full text of the rules … was set forth for the Council and the public, both before or after enactment, and was immediately officially published after enactment.”

One solution to the issue, according to incoming City Council President Tommy Hazouri, who sponsored the 2017 legislation, is to simply pass the law again. Since the bill passed in 2017 (by a vote of 12-6), the membership of the City Council has not changed.

The city is also considering appealing this new ruling to the (currently conservative) Florida Supreme Court.

LGBTQ blogger JoeMyGod notes that the Liberty Counsel has been trying to repeal Jacksonville’s LGBTQ protections since they were passed in early 2017.