Anti-discrimination bill on hold for another month

Council committees delay final vote after language change

Published On: Jun 19 2012 04:26:31 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 20 2012 07:55:55 AM EDT

The highly debated conversation over a proposed anti-discrimination bill in Jacksonville continues, but the city's decision to pass it or not has been put on hold for at least another month.

The City Council's recreation, community development, public health and safety committee discussed the bill at its meeting Tuesday.

The human rights bill, which would protect homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders in Jacksonville, is in two committees.

On Monday, the rules committee delayed its final vote on the bill until July, and the committee that met Tuesday did the same.

The next time the committees discuss the bill, they will be comprised of all new members.

The intent of Human Rights Ordinance 2012-269 is to ban discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered members of the community.

The issue heated up again at Tuesday's meeting, which focused on religion.

Supporters say it has nothing to do with religion, while opponents say it has everything to do with it.

"Because they're so convinced that if we were to have the opportunity to have our civil rights protected as citizens, along with everyone else, that somehow this is going to go against them. And it is incorrect information," said Anne Goldbauer, who supports the bill.

"My neighbors are gay. I love them. They were at my house last night. We've been discussing this," said Pam Jackson, who opposes the bill. "They're saying it's causing a problem in the community."

At Monday's rules committee meeting, councilman Warren Jones, who proposed the bill, offered a substitute bill that removed language protecting people based on "gender identity or expression." It kept protection against discrimination based on "sexual orientation."

Because of the recent change to the proposed bill, the recreation, community development, public health and safety committee delayed its final vote until July.

Both committees typically have to pass the bill for it to get to the full council for a vote.