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Demonstrators urge mayor to veto HRO bill

Jacksonville City Council passed ordinance protecting LGBT rights

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Although City Council passed the expansion of Jacksonville's Human Rights Ordnance Feb. 14 by a 12 to 6 vote, one group says there’s still time to kill it. They carried signs in front of City Hall on Wednesday during the lunch hour, urging Mayor Lenny Curry to veto the bill.

Curry wasn't a supporter of the bill, which bans discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents in employment, housing and public accommodations, but said after the City Council's vote that he would let it become law without his signature.

That statement didn't discourage the group that organized a No Men in Women's Bathroom's Women's Rally. Many of the demonstrators, at least half of whom were men, carried signs saying, "Mayor, Keep Your Promise." 

The group released a three-page memorandum prepared by the Liberty Council that said the City Charter does not allow the mayor to let a law take immediate effect, and that Curry can veto the ordinance at any point before the next City Council meeting, which is scheduled for next Tuesday.

The ordinance passed council Feb. 14 after three tries over the last five years. Curry reiterated Wednesday he has no plans to veto the bill.

“Public safety is obviously our No. 1 concern," said Amber Kelly, of the Florida Family Policy Council. "This ordinance would allow men to enter women’s bathrooms and vice versa, under the guise of, ‘I’m transgender. I’m a woman.’ The problem is, how can you determine who’s really not, you know, for altruistic reasons … or you know, really feels that way…or who’s doing that to take advantage of a situation?”

The group released a list of 21 "bathroom abuse incidents" compiled by the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., that are "a direct result of policies like the ones contained in the Jacksonville HRO. Only one of those happened in Florida -- Pasco County -- and it happened in 1999.