Full General Counsel's Report on HRO Legal Environment

July 18, 2015 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In one of the last real acts of the Brown Administration, one of the most damaging issues (to Brown) during his campaign for reelection--- the Human Rights Ordinance was shuffled off to the office of General Counsel to sort out whether Jacksonville, in fact, even needed to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination. After all, both front runners maintained that simply enforcing the existing laws obviated the need to pass any further legislation. The General Counsel was tasked with finding out whether or not that was true---strictly from a legislative and legal environment. Join us for details after the jump.

Since that time, of course, the election has been decided and Lenny Curry has become Mayor of Jacksonville.

The political ramifications of the Human Rights Ordinance simply cannot be overstated on the local scene.  Wells Fargo abandoned plans to relocate a regional HQ here, and instead chose a city that afforded protections for its diverse work force.  Several other companies with lower profiles followed suit, and several of the nascent political LGBT groups  declared a holy war on the Democratic mayor during the election, ultimately throwing it to first time republican candidate, Lenny Curry.

Curry, more than Brown, avoided the issue of supporting lgbt inclusion into a non discrimination ordinance by insisting that Jville people weren't the kind of people who discriminated on the basis of sexual or gender orientation.  Since he has become mayor, he has appointed Robin Lumb, the republican city councilman who voted against the Human Rights Ordinance and then showed up to First Baptist to be singled out and honored for his work by the pastor there.

It was one of the reasons that Lumb was unelectable in his own city council district, and now he is the Policy Chief for the Mayor in an unelected position.

So, the final report of the GC has been awaited by nearly all sides of the issue, and it was completed and released several weeks ago to the Council, the incoming mayoral administration, and to a few privileged citizens who knew that the legal opinion had been completed and had requested a copy.

For reference, here is a statement from Equality Florida on HRO's around the state.  The list of cities with legal protections is notable for including every large city in the state with the exception of Jacksonville.


Throughout most of Florida, it is legal to fire someone or deny them access to housing or public accommodations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). While it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status,  the LGBT community is currently left out of statewide non-discrimination protections.

Since 2004, Equality Florida has been working to pass a statewide bill that would include the LGBT community into current non-discrimination laws. The current bill, entitled the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Chapter 760 of the Florida state statues.

Although no statewide law yet exists, Equality Florida has been successfully working with our local partners all over the state to ensure LGBT people are protected from discrimination at the local level.

In fact, over 55% of Floridians live in a place that protects them from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Communities enact these protections because they know having a diverse talent pool helps their community to thrive. Having these protections is quickly becoming the standard for cities and counties across Florida.

In addition to cities and counties, businesses have been leading the way in offering LGBT inclusive non-discrimination protections. In fact, 89% of Fortune 500 companies protect employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation and 41% also include gender identity. Equality Florida has launched Equality Means Business to partner with businesses who know that equality in the workplace is good for their business.

Human Rights Ordinances: *

Alachua County (SO/GIE)
City of Atlantic Beach (SO/GIE)
Broward County (SO/GIE)
City of Dunedin (SO/GIE)
City of Gulfport (SO/GIE)
City of Gainesville (SO/GIE)
Hillsborough County (SO/GIE)
City of Key West (SO/GIE)
City Of Lake Worth (SO/GIE)
City of Largo (SO/GIE)
Leon County (SO/GIE)
City of Miami (SO/GIE)
City of Miami Beach (SO/GIE)
Miami Dade County (SO/GIE)
Monroe County (SO/GIE)
Orange County (SO, GIE inclusive definition)
City of Orlando (SO/GIE)
City of Oakland Park (SO/GIE)
Palm Beach County (SO/GIE)
Pinellas County (SO/GIE)
City of Sarasota (SO/GIE)
City of St. Augustine (SO/GIE)
City of St. Petersburg (SO)
City of Tampa (SO/GIE)
Volusia County (SO/GIE)
City of Venice (SO/GIE)
City of West Palm Beach (SO/GIE)
City of Wilton Manors (SO/GIE)

* Judge Rand Hoch of the Palm Beach Human Rights Campaign adds that:

The Cities of Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Greenacres, all of which are also in Palm Beach County, all have SO/GIE inclusive HRO's.  All three have been enacted in 2015.  

In addition, the City of Leesburg, which is not in Palm Beach County, has an SO/GIE inclusive HRO.

Additionally, while St. Augustine and Sarasota (neither of which is located in Palm Beach County) both have SO-inclusive HROs, our  researchers have been unable to verify that they also include GIE.  

The terms of the General Counsel's legal opinion are fairly clearcut and well reasoned, and we've decided to publish the report in its entirety so that our readers can be at least as informed as the City itself on those findings.

documents provided by the Office of General Counsel
article by stephen dare