An anti-discrimination bill protecting gays and lesbians' rights failed Wednesday night by one "no" vote from a Jacksonville city councilman who had said he was going to support it.
After a compromise took "gender identity or expression" language out of the hotly debated Human Rights Ordinance, it was expected to pass. When it was defeated on a 10-9 vote, Councilman Johnny Gaffney said a flood of opposition from his constituents convinced him to change his mind and vote against the bill.
"It was a pretty good case, but the phone calls and correspondence I got were a lot stronger," Gaffney told Channel 4's Jim Piggott on Thursday morning.
Gaffney received about 1,100 emails on the subject and said he got a number of letters as well -- most opposed to the bill.
After the compromise measure failed, the council held a vote on the original bill, which was defeated on a vote of 17-2.
Other council members said this issue had generated more public feedback than others in recent years.
Some council members said it's an issue local government isn't suited to decide, while others said gays and lesbians do need protection in the form of a law.
Those trying to get the measure passed say they will regroup and try again. People who had opposed the measure said they were thankful it failed.