It’s official—the Jacksonville City Council will consider a fully-inclusive human rights ordinance in the first few weeks of 2017.
A bipartisan group of City Council members including Aaron Bowman, Tommy Hazouri and Jim Love filed the update to the City’s current ordinance this morning during a public meeting at City Hall. If passed, the updated human rights ordinance, or #JaxHRO, would protect members of Jacksonville’s gay and transgender community from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Dan Merkan, who chairs the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, praised the speed with which Council members took action on the #JaxHRO this year. Merkan credited the Council’s quick work to the rapidly growing number of local businesses, civic leaders and individual residents who are calling for these inclusive LGBT protections.
“We are confident 2017 will be the year Jacksonville passes a fully-inclusive human rights ordinance to ensure all people who live, work and vacation in our city will not have to face discrimination. Over the last year, the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality’s campaign has brought together nearly 200 faith leaders, 700 small and large businesses, hundreds of volunteers, and a support team led by top business and civic leaders to advocate for this much-needed bill. We look forward to the day where no person faces discrimination in Jacksonville based on who they are or who they love.”
Two of those civic and business leaders are JAX Chamber chair Audrey Moran and incoming chair Darnell Smith, who have been instrumental in pushing for more action and support from the business community. This activity crescendoed in the wake of North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 bill, which carried an estimated economic impact of close to $1 billion in lost revenue for the state.
A reading and discussion of the #JaxHRO will take place during the Council’s first scheduled public meeting of the year on Tuesday, January 10th at 5 p.m. The Council meets on the 4th floor of City Hall, in Suite 425.
Over the past year, calls, letters and simply showing up to make the case for the #JaxHRO has been critical to the success we’re seeing now. This first reading next week will set the tone for the rest of the lawmaking season, so it’s important that all supporters of a fully-inclusive HRO show up to City Hall that day to make their voices heard.