Jacksonville considers moving into the 21st century

23 May

Last night the Jacksonville City Council held a public  hearing to determine whether or not the City should amend the local Equal Opportunity Ordinance to include protections for gays, lesbians and transgendered citizens of our community.

Supporters of the amendment were the overwhelming majority at the hearing, which is heartening to know. The Chamber of Commerce, the business community, and former Republican Mayor, John Delaney are among those who have advocated for the bill.

Jacksonville is the largest city in the state of Florida in both land area and population, and is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. Meanwhile Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville and Daytona Beach have managed to pass similar protections. Those in favor of the ordinance argue it is time for Jacksonville to get with the program, wipe the sleep out of her eyes and recognize she is living in the 21st century.  Showing we are an inclusive city is ultimately good for business.

Almost all opposition is based on religious grounds, but there are also a significant number of supporters from the Jacksonville religious community.

First Baptist Church–a downtown mega-church which has long wielded an inordinate amount of  political clout, is against the ordinance.

The religious argument goes that legal protections for gays and lesbians infringes on the rights of many Christians. Apparently they are worried that they will be forced to let gay people go to their churches, or they will be forced to hire gay people against their will.

There are already gay people going to your churches. Take my word for it. More to the point, you already have gay people working in your churches. Don’t be naive.

Laws which outlaw discrimination do not force anyone to hire someone who is unsuitable for the job. Frankly, all hiring requires a certain level of discrimination (in the best sense of the word) in that you have to be discriminating to select the very best candidate for the position. If you base your hiring decision on the things that matter–qualifications, previous experience, etc., you have a good chance of hiring someone who is going to benefit your organization. If you do that, it is a win win for everyone.

If you already have an employee who is doing a good job, do you really want the right to fire him or her just because he or she is gay?

The City Council will take this up again in June. I am very heartened by the large turnout and strong support demonstrated by citizens of our community.

Of course, on the local news sites, it is time for the trolls to come out.

They are leaving comments like “the next thing is a bill proposing the protection of the rights of those whom practice pedophilia and bestiality.”

Like laws protecting children and animals are automatically going to be thrown out the window because the community opposes discrimination against other people who aren’t breaking any laws. Think before you type, people!

One commenter said it was all rigged and that none of the people who spoke at the meeting who “claimed discrimination” could provide any actual examples. Then he says, “No evidence or example to back it up because it was a pack of lies. The homosexual mafia is using the same tactics as Chairman Mao, Hitler or the Taliban to push their agenda through. It is acceptable for them to lie and use distortion as long as it furthers their cause. But isn’t that to be expected from a group with no moral foundation or compass?”

It is interesting that this person does not believe discrimination against gays and lesbians ever happens, then complains that passage of this amendment will cause Jacksonville to become a “cesspool” and “a Sodom and Gomorrah.” He ends his diatribe by saying if the ordinance passes, he won’t abide by it. He will pack up and move his business elsewhere and that will cost the community “jobs and growth.”

He seems to be arguing that discrimination against gay people is a myth while, at the same time, arguing the he will (and we assume already has) discriminate against gay people all he wants or move somewhere where it is legal to be a bigot. Not Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville or Daytona Beach, of course, but somewhere else.

Why do I get the feeling this person doesn’t really provide all that many jobs in our area? Because the big companies around here–the ones who really bring the jobs and growth to the city, don’t discriminate against people because of things that are irrelevant to the job. They’re too busy trying to hire people who will do a good job, no matter what their sexual orientation, race, creed, or color.

That’s just good business.

Happy Wednesday

4 Responses to “Jacksonville considers moving into the 21st century”

  1. Mary Atwood May 23, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    “The homosexual mafia is using the same tactics as Chairman Mao, Hitler or the Taliban to push their agenda through.”
    I have to wonder if that comment was left by someone we know since it sounds so much like something that particular person would say!

    On a brighter note, let’s hear it for Jacksonville! So good to see our city finally embracing the concept of equal opportunity for all.

    • catzenspace May 23, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

      It could well have been someone we both know….

  2. Pamela N Red May 23, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    I haven’t seen the homosexual mafia. That would be something to see.

    • Mike May 24, 2012 at 4:36 am #

      Wonderfully written blog. My employer has a large presence in Jacksonville and I couldn’t agree more with your last comments. They are more concerned with hiring the best talent available regardless of any sort of sexual orientation. I had no idea Jax was behind the times. Good for them! Go for it!

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