Speaking for the Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Estevez opposes all forms of special LGBT rights. His letter to Mayor Curry is available here:
2016Jan14: Bishop weighs in on city's HRO proposals
By Jim Piggott - Reporter Posted: 11:23 AM, January 14, 2016 Updated: 4:31 PM, January 14, 2016 http://www.news4jax.com/news/local/jacksonville/bishop-weighs-in-on-citys-hro-proposals
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The bishop of the local Catholic Diocese has weighed in on the debate over expanding Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to include those in the LGBT community.
Two proposed ordinances before the City Council would amend the current HRO. One proposal would allow the council to decide if protections should be extended to the LGBT community and the other would put the issue before voters in a special referendum.
Bishop Felipe Estevez of the Diocese of St. Augustine, which includes Jacksonville, sent a letter to Mayor Lenny Curry this week saying the church cannot support either version of the proposed legislation.
The letter says, in part, “our constant conviction has been and continues to be that sexual activity between persons of the same gender is contrary to the moral principles which come to us through the words of the Holy Bible, as well as good reason, and which we have no right or authority to change.”
It goes on to say, “We have great concern that the proposed amendment to the ordinance goes beyond the prohibition of discrimination based solely on sexual orientation, and includes 'gender identity or expression.'”
The bishop also asserts in the letter the proposed amendment would discriminate against people of faith.
Reaction in the community was mixed to the Bishop's letter.
Rose Dalton, a parishioner, stood by the Bishop's decision. "What he's saying is biblical, purely and simply, and that's why those things can't be changed in the church, because they are biblical. When it comes to that, there's not even a pope that has the right to change it," Dalton said.
Pauline Miller, another parishioner, agreed with the Bishop's stance. "I know people that are gay, and I know that they struggle with it. I know that I have compassion for them, and I think it's very difficult for them, especially being Catholic. But, I can't judge them, like Pope Francis said. You can't judge them. You have to have faith in God. I believe that they were born that way and God has a purpose for them".
The Coalition for Equality supported the proposed ordinance. The group thinks it is appropriate to have the protections offered as part of the ordinance in place. "Over 100 faith groups and religious groups have signed on to this from Episcopals, to Muslims, to Baptists, to the whole gamut. The Catholic church is important, and they're an important faith, but they're one voice among many," said Jimmy Midyette, who supports the HRO changes.
2015Dec10: Pastors want public referendum on adding LGBT people to Jacksonville's anti-discrimination law
Rev. Fred Newbill is leading the push to get a voter referendum on the question
By David Bauerlein | Thu, Dec 10, 2015 @ 11:41 am | updated Thu, Dec 10, 2015 @ 12:03 pm http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2015-12-10/story/pastors-want-public-referendum-adding-lgbt-people-jacksonvilles-anti
The Rev. Fred Newbill will join a group of African-American pastors calling for City Council to have a public referendum on whether Jacksonville should expand its human rights ordinance to cover LGBT people.
The news conference is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Thursday at First Timothy Baptist Church, where Newbill is pastor.
Newbill and other pastors will speak in opposition to expanding the human rights ordinance.
Mayor Lenny Curry has been convening “community conversations” on whether Jacksonville should add lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to the list of protected groups in the city’s anti-discrimination law.
The anti-discrimination law covers employment, housing and public accommodations. Jacksonville City Council rejected expanding the law in 2012.
The following articles are available at Alliance Defending Freedom:
A 2014 Alliance Defending Freedom manual, which explains how pastors can prevent SOGI lawsuits, is downloadable here. SOGI means Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity (or Expression).
Parts of the manual may be obsolete, due to the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling.