City council introducing HRO bills

Conflicting proposals will decide who votes for new amendment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two opposing bills that would decide who makes the call on expanding protection for Jacksonville's LGBT community will be introduced at City Council Tuesday night.

On one side is Republican Councilman Bill Gulliford. He will introduce legislation that would call for Duval County voters to expand the Human Rights Ordinance to include members of  the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender community.

Democratic Councilman Tommy Hazouri believes the hot-button issue is better suited for council members to decide.

On Monday, several clergy members from Jacksonville's faith-based community held an event to announce their support for bring LGBT citizens into the tent and said they do not believe the issue should be put to a public referendum.

"This is civil rights issues this should not be anything as it relates to putting something to a vote somebody have their basic human rights as a human being. You know, created by God. So, it’s strange," said Pastor R.L. Gundy of Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church.

In December, a separate group of clergy announced they want the public to have the final say on the issue, not the city council.

"We don't believe that it needs to be written or passed by a few, even the City Council or signed by the mayor,” said Pastor Fred Newbill of First Timothy Baptist Church.

Mayor Lenny Curry, who has presided over three planned town hall meetings, is not ready to commit on how to proceed with legislation.

"I am not done with my process," Curry said. "I respect the ability of council for individuals to introduce legislation. I am going to continue my process in the days and the weeks ahead. I am focused on continuing the process I started a few weeks ago with community conversations, and I am going to work for what I think is best for Jacksonville in the weeks ahead."

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