Column: Epic Jacksonville City Council Fail

Catherine Byerly

Photo by Catherine Byerly

The Jacksonville City Council voted Wednesday August 15, 2012 against Ordinance 2012-296 in a 10-9 vote, which sought to protect the gay and lesbian community from workplace and housing discrimination.  This decision not only disappointed me as a UNF student, but as a Jacksonville resident.

And even as a Republican.

Hey I just said this and it sounds crazy,  but here’s my reasoning so read it maybe.

In the crowded town hall meetings leading up to the decision, opponents of the bill were outraged that it would force them to act in a way against their moral beliefs.  In a particularly alarming speech, Councilwoman Kim Daniels went as far to say that Egypt had laws like Ordinance 296, as well as ones protecting individuals who had sexual relations with animals and corpses and asked if the ordinance would reach them as well.

According to Daniels, it’s a slippery slope.

Bestiality and necrophilia aside, I agree.  Discrimination is a slippery slope.

Currently the Jacksonville City Council includes both women and African-Americans, who as some at the town hall meetings pointed out, have only within the last fifty years have been in a position to hold that office.   Daniels also asserted that if the LGBT community were given special rights then no one would be special thus negating the rights of other minority groups.

With her Alma Mata, FSU, consistently being ranked in the top party schools, perhaps Daniels missed the lecture on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Legislation, which was made possible by the efforts of very different groups to promote the equal protection under the law, granted to Americans by the Fourteenth Amendment of our constitution.

Sorry Daniels, to put it in FSU terms, rights protecting different minority groups go together like Frat parties and kegerators.

And just like kegs make any party more fun, employed and economically mobile citizens make a community better.  That was the stance of the Chamber of Commerce and Jacksonville Civic Council, who wanted to make Jacksonville more marketable to businesses.

Jacksonville is always competing against locations like Atlanta and Omaha for businesses to relocate to they argued.  And most Fortune 500 companies have their own policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In order to be a contender against these locations we need to have policies that attract and retain the best labor pool.

But the biggest fail, was Democracy.

According to the LGBT Attitudinal Awareness Survey out of our very own Public Opinion Research Laboratory, 86% of Jacksonville adults “strongly agree” that sexual orientation should not be a factor in how they are treated on the job.

And these findings were from 2008, almost a whole year before Glee came out.

Couple this with reports from town hall meetings citing an overwhelming number of speakers in favor of Ordinance 296, and you have a huge failure of democracy.

Because when government fails to represent the will of the people all sides of a democracy lose.  Not only has it failed from an ideological point of view, but history has shown it’s only a matter of time before the other side is in power and out for blood.

Regardless of your stance on the LGBT community, the facts, logical points of those promoting the legislation, and voices of the community were not heard, which means less fairness and less jobs for Jacksonville residents.

Even the Republican ones.