Small business owners oppose HRO expansion

Group says amendment would open businesses to lawsuits


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A group of small business owners and others opposed to the city of Jacksonville expanding its Human Rights Ordinance said Tuesday that the move could hurt them.

The City Council is expected to vote soon on whether gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people should be including in the anti-discrimination law.

A group of about 20 people, many of whom own or run small or medium businesses in Jacksonville, gathered in front of City Hall on Tuesday, saying there is no need for the rule. They said the city will not suffer economically if the measure is not approved, but their businesses will suffer.

UNCUT: Small business owners announce opposition to HRO expansion

Mac McGehee, of Mac Papers on Jacksonville’s Southside, said he is against the measure because it opens businesses up to lawsuits.

“I do oppose this version of the HRO because the harm that it will do to existing Jacksonville businesses far outweighs any speculative benefits,” McGehee said. “Because we have over 15 employees, this new lawsuit being created could be brought against me and my business.”

Others said they’re upset with the Chamber of Commerce, which supports the HRO. They claim that even though they are Jax Chamber members, the Chamber's view does not represent them.

A spokesman for the Chamber released a statement Tuesday:

"This anti-discrimination proposal is a collaboration between business, civic and faith leaders. It protects everyone in our community from discrimination while respecting everyone’s religious liberties and exempting businesses with fewer than 15 employees."

The council is expected to vote Feb. 14 on the HRO amendment.

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