2016Jan29: Amid heated debate over LGBT issue, Mayor Curry says law does not need to be changed

By Nate Monroe and Christopher Hong Fri, Jan 29, 2016 @ 4:26 pm | updated Fri, Jan 29, 2016 @ 5:56 pm
http://jacksonville.com/news/2016-01-29/story/amid-heated-debate-over-lgbt-issue-mayor-curry-says-law-does-not-need-be?utm_source=feedburner&amp%3Butm_medium=feed&amp%3Butm_campaign=Feed%3A+JacksonvillecomNews+%28Jacksonville+Local+News+%E2%80%93+Jacksonville.com+and+The+Florida+Times-Union%29

Taking a long-awaited step into a heated debate over legislation to expand Jacksonville’s discrimination protection to the LGBT community, Mayor Lenny Curry said Friday he does not support changing the city’s anti-discrimination law.

“Based on the extensive community discussion and the actions that I have taken and directed, I have concluded my review, analysis and determination of this issue, and as such, I do not believe any further legislation would be prudent,” he said.

Curry’s statement also said he has taken steps to ensure that City Hall complies with anti-discrimination policies in line with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. He also said he would make sure those policies are followed by any vendors doing business with the city.

“These actions move our city forward, while demonstrating my commitment to defending individual rights and promoting respect and equality in our workplace,” Curry said. “We will now join other large employers who have been business leaders in anti-discriminatory employment related practices.”

Although Curry did not run on a promise to expand Jacksonville’s anti-discrimination law — called the human-rights ordinance — many advocates, including some of the mayor’s big financial backers, were hoping to change his mind.

Curry, a Republican, would have been an unlikely champion for the cause:

During the mayoral campaign last year, he said he was unconvinced the law needed to be changed. He has moved little from that position.

His announcement that City Hall and its vendors would follow the EEOC’s interpretation on workplace discrimination came as some consolation to expansion advocates.

Jimmy Midyette, legislative director for the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, which supports expanding the law, called that a “great first step.”

“But I see it as a first step,” he said.

City General Counsel Jason Gabriel said Curry’s decision to follow the EEOC interpretation — called a “departmental directive” — does not require City Council approval.

Jacksonville’s human rights ordinance bars discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age and disability.

The City Council is weighing two bills related to the ordinance.

One bill, introduced by Councilman Tommy Hazouri, would expand the ordinance to include LGBT people. That bill has gotten strong support from the business community — the JAX Chamber board of directors endorsed a “fully inclusive law” this week — and some of Jacksonville’s faith community.

The other bill, introduced by Councilman Bill Gulliford, would put the issue up for a voter referendum, which many believe would favor opponents of an expanded human-rights ordinance. More traditional voices in the city’s Republican base, joined by a group of black pastors, support that option or no change at all.

Hazouri met with several council members Friday in an attempt to have them become cosponsors of his bill.

Councilman Jim Love said expanding the protections is the “right thing to do” and said not having them puts the city as a disadvantage for recruiting potential businesses.

“I see a lot of upside, and not a lot of downside,” Love said.

Love now joins Councilman Aaron Bowman on the legislation’s list of co-sponsors.

While Councilwoman Joyce Morgan, who also attended the meeting, didn’t agree to become a co-sponsor, she said she supports the legislation.

Hazouri briefly discussed Curry’s decision during the meeting and said he believes his bill would not only protect city employees, but others throughout the city.

“I think we’re going to keep moving forward with our bills and embrace what the mayor is doing today and codify what the mayor wants to do with our bill,” Hazouri said.

The first of three special committee meetings on those two bills begins next week.

It’s not clear how Curry would react if the council passed either bill. If Curry vetoes any bill, a vote of 13 council members could override it. He could also allow a bill to become law without his signature.

His spokeswoman said Curry, who was at City Hall on Friday, was unavailable to discuss his statement further.

Nate Monroe: (904) 359-4289
Christopher Hong: (904) 359-4272

2016Jan29: Mayor Curry takes direct action on discrimination, recommends no further HRO laws

Curry's announcement comes after three community conversations on the Human Rights Ordinance

Photo: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry speaks on his proposal to pay down the City's pension debt.

By John Engel Posted: 3:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, 2016
http://www.wokv.com/news/news/local/mayor-lenny-curry-takes-direct-action-employment-d/nqFpG/

Jacksonville, Fl. — Recommending no further legislative action by the city council, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announces direct action he’ll be taking to bring the city in compliance with discrimination laws.

This comes after Curry hosted three community conversations on Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance.

Curry says he has directed his staff to develop a directive requiring Jacksonville’s employment polices to “preclude and prohibit all forms of employment discrimination upon any basis” under the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“These actions move our city forward, while demonstrating my commitment to defending individual rights and promoting respect and equality in our workplace,” Curry said in a statement Friday. “We will now join other large employers who have been business leaders in anti-discriminatory employment related practices.”

While Curry has denounced the city council expanding the HRO he has explicity called for compliance with state and federal discrimination laws. 

The last try by the city council to expand the HRO failed in 2012.

They Mayor's News Release is here:

And, his letter to City employees is here:


Mr Hazouri, however, says his bill will continue.  See the story below.

TAKING A STAND FOR OUR FAMILIES
​IN JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA

Mayor Curry Opposes Adding LGBT Law