JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An outspoken opponent of gay rights says he’s being discriminated against by his own attorney.
Ken Adkins has been at the forefront of Jacksonville’s fight over whether to expand human rights ordinance protections to cover the LGBT community. He is against allowing those protections.
Adkins' attorney, Rick Block, recently sent the activist a letter saying that his beliefs mean that he can’t represent Adkins fairly in court.
In the letter, which Adkins shared with News4Jax, Block, who had been representing Adkins in a personal injury lawsuit, said that because of the way he raises his family, it wouldn't be fair if he represented Adkins in court.
Block, who has a gay son, said he’s been open about his belief that not expanding gay rights protections is hurting the city. Block said his son had trouble as a teen coping with his sexuality but now is flourishing, living in a gay community out west.
Adkins has recently been very vocal about his religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong.
Block responded with the letter to Adkins, which read, in part:
"The issue I have is that your public pronouncements and obviously firmly held personal and religious beliefs regarding homosexuality have offended me as my son’s father. In fact, they have offended me to the point that I simply cannot in good conscience represent you knowing your feelings about my son and his sexual orientation ..."
Adkins said he was surprised by the letter and decided to share it with the media. Block responded to that decision.
“I really didn't want to say anything. This is a private communication between my client and me, so I was kind of surprised when you showed up with the letter, which he has apparently shared with the media, which is his right to do,” Block said. “I support his right. … I support his right to express his beliefs. I may not agree with them -- that's what America is about, isn't it?”
Adkins said Block was aware of his work before taking him on as a client, but might not have known how vocal he has been against LGBT rights.
“I feel discriminated against. I feel my opinion does not matter,” Adkins said.
He said he would not hire Block as an attorney again now that he knows how Block feels.
“I asked him prior to this, 'Is this going to be a problem, because this is important to me?'” Adkins said.
Adkins said he has no plans to take his discrimination complaint to the Florida Bar, but he believes that there are some problems with how Block handled the situation.
News4Jax contacted the Florida Bar Association about the incident, and a spokeswoman said that Block followed proper procedure and didn't break any rules when he dropped Adkins as a client.