TAKING A STAND FOR OUR FAMILIES
​IN JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA

The Liberty Counsel's 01Mar2017 filing is here.

The City's 22Mar2017 response is here.

Liberty Counsel replies to City's request to remove Judge Soud: here.

Group sues to overturn Jacksonville HRO

Foes claim process not followed

By Christopher Hong Posted March 1, 2017 04:18 pm | Updated 04:30 pm
http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2017-03-01/group-sues-overturn-jacksonville-hro 

The Jacksonville City Council voted 12-6 on Feb. 14 to support the long-discussed and anticipated Human Rights Ordinance. Council members discussed and voted in front of a packed chamber with overflow watching at the Duval County Library downtown.

A Christian activist group based in Orlando sued the city of Jacksonville on Wednesday over a recently enacted gay rights law, asking a local judge to overturn it on a technicality.

 Attorneys with the Liberty Counsel say the new law, which changed the city’s existing human rights ordinance to prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, was written in a way that violates state and local rules.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of local resident John Parsons, asks the judge to invalidate the law and prevent the city from enforcing it during the lawsuit.

The group has vehemently fought against the legislation, saying it violates Christians’ religious liberties.

However, their legal argument doesn’t focus on the law’s substance. Instead, they argue the legislation failed to include the exact text of every current law that was changed, and that doing so is misleading and unlawful.

The law amended 28 sections of the city’s ordinance code. The legislation listed the titles of the amended laws and included the new language that would be added to them.

People who helped write and pass the law said they used that format to create a short and succinct piece of legislation.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri, one of the legislation’s sponsors, said city attorneys reviewed the legislation multiple times before it was introduced.

Still, the Liberty Counsel argues omitting the exact text of each amended law violated state and local rules — and that it wasn’t an accident.

“Rather, the violations result from the intentional omission of plain and obvious legal requirements, by the ordinance authors and sponsors, to deceive the Jacksonville public, City Council and mayor as to the true contents and scope of the (law).”

A city spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment on active litigation.

The case has been referred to Judge Adrian Soud.

Soud’s mother, Ginger Soud, fought against the law’s passage and similar legislation introduced in 2012 and 2016.

Ginger Soud, a former City Council president, led a rally last month of business owners who opposed the discrimination protections.

Florida judicial rules say parties can ask a judge to be removed from a case if the judge, or someone related to the judge, is “interested in the result” of the case.

An assistant for Adrian Soud said he couldn’t comment on pending lawsuits when asked if he planned to remain on the case.

Christopher Hong: (904) 359-4272

HRO Considered Illegal; Lawsuit Filed

Liberty Counsel Files Suit to Invalidate Illegal LGBT Ordinance


Mar 1, 2017 | http://www.lc.org/newsroom/details/030117-liberty-counsel-files-suit-to-invalidate-illegal-lgbt-ordinance

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit today to invalidate the so-called Jacksonville “Human Rights Ordinance” or “HRO” because it was adopted in violation of Florida Statutes, the Jacksonville Ordinance Code and City Council Rules.  The Jacksonville City Council voted to adopt the HRO, Ordinance 2017-15, on February 14, 2017.

The HRO purports to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as “protected categories” under Jacksonville law.  As stated in the lawsuit, the authors and sponsors of the HRO intentionally omitted language required by state and local law
“to deceive the Jacksonville public, City Council and Mayor as to the true contents and scope of the HRO.  None of the twenty-eight (28) sections and subsections of the Jacksonville Ordinance Code purportedly amended by . . . the HRO are published in the HRO, either in whole or in part.”

“The council members and activists who promoted the HRO told the public that the ordinance was different from the two prior versions that failed in 2012 and 2016 — that it was ‘simpler’ and addressed the concerns of small businesses and religious organizations,” said Roger Gannam, Liberty Counsel’s Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs.  “But the truth is, this is the same bad ordinance that opens women’s private facilities to men, coerces Christian business owners to violate their consciences, and does not solve any actual discrimination problem.  The HRO proponents hid the truth with intentionally deceptive messaging and by flouting the rule of law,” said Gannam.

Roger Gannam will address the media regarding the lawsuit at 10:30 a.m. today [March 01, 2017], in front of the Duval County Courthouse, 501 W.  Adams St., Jacksonville.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

Press Release
Lawsuit to invalidate a city ordinance that adds "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as "protected categories" under Jacksonville law
Battle Continues Against Jacksonville LGBT Law
By Liberty Counsel March 23, 2017 |
http://canadafreepress.com/article/battle-continues-against-jacksonville-lgbt-law

JACKSONVILLE, FL - Liberty Counsel filed a Motion for Summary Judgment today in John Parsons v. City of Jacksonville, Florida, a lawsuit to invalidate a city ordinance that adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as “protected categories” under Jacksonville law. Liberty Counsel’s motion shows the court that the ordinance, dubbed the “Human Rights Ordinance” or “HRO,” is so clearly illegal that it should be invalidated without the need for a trial.

Yesterday, the City of Jacksonville filed a Motion to Dismiss Liberty Counsel’s lawsuit against the HRO, on the theory that the plaintiff lacks legal standing to file the lawsuit because he has no “special injury.” However, Liberty Counsel is prepared to show the court that any resident of Jacksonville can file suit challenging the validity of the HRO under the applicable statutes and well-settled precedent. Notably, the city’s motion makes no attempt to defend the validity of the HRO under Florida law.

Prior versions of the HRO were defeated twice in Jacksonville with help from Liberty Counsel and others. Radical LGBT activists chose the language of the current HRO, which violates Florida and Jacksonville law, and, with the help of their allies on the City Council, deceived other city officials and the public into believing the “new” HRO was somehow different from the previously defeated versions.

“The violations of Florida and Jacksonville law by the HRO authors and sponsors are so clear that no trial is necessary,” said Liberty Counsel’s Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs, Roger Gannam, a former long-time Jacksonville resident. “City officials were wrong to choose the radical LGBT agenda over the rule of law and the fair and honest people of Jacksonville. This law deceptively and unnecessarily puts women in harm’s way, by opening their facilities to men, and forces Jacksonville’s businesses and citizens to celebrate the same-sex relationships of others under threat of fines and even loss of their businesses,” said Gannam.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.