June 15th launched a new and hope-filled week in Jacksonville as two astonishing actions — one federal and one local — took effect that significantly expand civil rights to LGBTQ people in our country and in our community.
In an historic decision released yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ persons from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment and the workplace. In a 6 – 3 ruling written by Justice Neil Gorsuch (Justices Alito, Kavanaugh and Thomas dissenting), the Court recognized that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity equates to discrimination on the basis of sex which Title VII forbids. Gorsuch stated, “Discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex; the first cannot happen without the second.”
At home, we are pleased to note that, in a remarkable turnaround, Mayor Lenny Curry signed into law a bill passed last week by City Council which expands protections offered by Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance to LGBTQ persons. In 2017, the Mayor refused to take a position allowing a similar bill to become law without his signature.
This spring, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal in a surprise ruling overturned the 2017 legislation on the basis of a technicality (see Jaxlookout, HRO Redux). Through a series of meetings, City Council reviewed a new HRO and debated whether the city has been well-served or hurt by expanding legal protections to LGBTQ persons. Ultimately, LGBTQ protections were affirmed in what is referred to as “the repair bill” by 15-4 (Council Members Danny Becton, Al Ferraro, Sam Newby and Randy White voting against).
You can read the Supreme Court opinion and the local legislation through these links:
We know that many JaxLookout readers helped to move this issue forward locally by reaching out to their City Council representatives and attending numerous virtual Council and committee meetings.
I am grateful for your engagement, willingness and passion to ensure that Jacksonville comes closer to fulfilling its promise to be a bold, new and inclusive city for all of its people. The work is not finished, but we can celebrate these two profound victories today even as we prepare to move the needle forward again tomorrow.