Mayor Curry declares HRO expansion fight over

LGBTQ protections become law after 5 years of debate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Less than an hour after the Jacksonville City Council passed an amendment Tuesday night adding sexual orientation protections to Jacksonville's Human Rights Ordinance, Mayor Lenny Curry allowed it to become law without his signature.

By Wednesday morning, there was no evidence of the celebration that took place in front of City Hall after the vote, but there was talk about passage of the HRO expansion.

Curry said he was home having Valentine's Day dinner with his family during the vote.

"I was watching (the meeting) before I left. I did not see the final vote because my wife was in the kitchen and I walked into the living room. She said, 'Dinner is ready. Turn off the TV and get in here.'" 

Curry ordered lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protections in the city's hiring practices after he was elected and had said he didn't think HRO amendment was needed. He allowed it to become law without his signature.

A group has suggested there be a public referendum to reverse the HRO provision, it is a measure he won't support.

"It's over. It's closed. Let's get back to fighting crime in the city," Curry said.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri, who has been behind the expansion from since it was first proposed five years ago, said he is glad the mayor did what he did to make it law so quickly.

"I don't think you're going to see an abundance or an overabundance of complaints. I could be wrong," Hazouri said. "You know, we had a dozen before, but a lot of people didn't complain before because we didn't have a law to stand on."

Nobody was in line Wednesday to file a discrimination complaint at the city's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office. Forms are available to make complaints, depending on if the discrimination was in housing or employment.

Complaints would then be investigated by the Human Rights Commission, and anyone found in violation of the ordinance could be fined up to $500.

The law only applies to Jacksonville and not the independent beaches communities, which have their own HRO ordinances.

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