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.”