May 31, 2020
In The Public Interest

HRO Update: Your Voice Needed

JaxLookout recently reported on Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance (HRO Redux) and the protections for LGBT+ people that were overturned by the State of Florida’s First District Court of Appeal earlier this month. The Court of Appeal decision was based on a technicality and not on the substance of protections that the HRO offered to Jacksonville’s people. In fact, the HRO has operated successfully and without incident for three years. 

A bill offering a simple repair to the HRO has been offered by Aaron Bowman, and Council Members LeAnna Cumber and Matt Carlucci have signed on as co-sponsors. The full Council will consider the HRO Repair Bill (2020-244) when it meets this coming Tuesday, May 26 at 4pm. Public comment will be heard at this meeting, and a final vote of the Council will be taken on June 9.

We are writing to encourage your attendance at the May 26 meeting via the City’s website. This link gives you information about the meeting along with instructions for joining and participating: www.coj.net/city-council/events/all-events/city-council-meeting-(91)

Beginning today and leading up to the time of the meeting, your elected representatives need to hear from you: your voice is important now. In addition to attending the meeting on Tuesday, you can reach out to your representatives, both district and at-large, to let them know you support a fully inclusive HRO. You can easily find your representatives here: www.coj.net/city-council.aspx

Whether you choose to email, phone or both, your message should be brief, clear and positive. To that end, the language below is suggested. Feel free to use it, personalize it, and share it with others.

Dear Council Member:

I am writing to urge your support for passage of 2020-244. The bill offers a simple fix to the technical concerns of the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) that have been raised by Florida’s First District Court of Appeal and ensures equitable protections not only for Jacksonville’s LGBT+ people but for everyone. 

The HRO has worked on behalf of Jacksonville’s people without incident for three years.  I know you agree that everyone should be treated equitably under the law.

You may also wish to call Council President Wilson at 904.255.5204.

Because we are writing to you on Friday afternoon going into Memorial Day Weekend, we ask you to take action as soon as possible.

Written by
Robert Arleigh White

Robert Arleigh White has many years of experience managing nonprofit arts organizations in North Florida where he has also been active in promoting a host of arts related initiatives. In recognition of over 20 years of successful legislative and community advocacy, the City of Jacksonville proclaimed August 12 as “Robert Arleigh White Day,” and Jacksonville’s City Council similarly authorized a resolution in his honor. Previously, Mr. White served as the executive and artistic director for Theatre Jacksonville where he led the organization from near fiscal insolvency to become one of the State of Florida’s most successful artistic venues. While there, he also was directly responsible for the artistic direction of fifty plays and worked to produce dozens more. Currently, Bob is the principal for Robert Arleigh White + Associates where he consults with nonprofits on development, infrastructure and organizational storytelling.

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Written by Robert Arleigh White

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