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Local allies of Jacksonville's LGBT community to get help from unlikely source

by: Russell Colburn Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Three years ago, a human rights ordinance failed, largely due to backlash from the religious community. Some of those same people will be back at Edward Waters College Thursday to support a new one.

The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples may marry. But that’s far from where the discrimination ended for the LGBT community.
 
Chevarra Orrin co-founded the group We Are Straight Allies.
 
“Someone could get married on Saturday and be fired from their job on Monday,” Orrin said.
 
We Are Straight Allies pushes for a human rights ordinance (HRO) that could protect all people from discrimination when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodations.


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The Rev. R.L. Gundy, pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church is onboard.
 
Two years ago, he had a change of heart when a 24-year-old member of his congregation lost his battle with AIDS.
 
“When he laid before us in the congregation at his home-going service, I asked my church, ‘I wonder if he would be alive if he'd have felt like he could come home,’” Gundy said.
 
Now, he hopes more people, especially those in the religious community, will endorse an HRO and embrace equality.
 
”I think Jacksonville has to come out of the dark ages of discrimination and into the light ages of inclusiveness,” Gundy said.

More than 30 religious leaders will be out Thursday supporting a new ordinance.  They hope to have one drafted in the coming months.
 
Meanwhile, Gundy says his mind is made up.

“I'm standing firm on my convictions and what I believe in faith-wise, but I'm also standing firm in my convictions that people should not be discriminated against -- and I'm not going to change that,” Gundy said.


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 Mayor Lenny Curry's next community conversation is Thursday night at the college and will most likely be a talking point from the community.
 
The mayor’s office sent Action News Jax a statement, which reads in part:

"The mayor has committed to learning more about Jacksonville needs by convening citizens in a community conversation. Through these "Community Conversations," citizens are participating and engaging in a dialogue about needs, gaps and opportunities for Jacksonville."