Jacksonville councilman: Passage of expanded HRO bill was 'long, winding road'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville’s City Council passed an expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance on Tuesday night.

It was a 12-6 vote in favor of an expansion of the HRO.

On Tuesday night, 18 members of council voted. Councilman Katrina Brown not at the meeting.

The expansion bill is roughly four to five pages long and outlines equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Jacksonville.

“It’s been a long, winding road, from 2012 to now,” said City Councilman Tommy Hazouri.

Hazouri has been in favor of the HRO bill for years now.

“It’s about everybody. It’s about gender identity. It’s about sexual orientation. It’s about housing, employment and public accommodations, for the rest of the city and not just those that has been covered all of these years,” said Hazouri.

But not everybody on the council felt that way. Councilman Bill Gulliford made several amendments to the bill, one of those which included, "allowing the people to vote."

“Oh, absolutely. That’s why I offered that referendum. I think that was the only way to resolve it. I think it would have put it to bed once and for all,” said Gulliford.

“You wonder, that it would be great to look into people’s minds, as to why they voted,” said Gulliford.

Gulliford was one of five members who voted against the HRO expansion bill. The other council members who agreed with Gulliford were Danny Becton, Doyle Carter, Matt Schellenberg, Al Ferraro and Samuel Newby.

“I don’t think it ends here. I really don’t. Nothing prevents council members from bringing it up a year or so from now and offering changes or amendments, maybe even revoking it. I don’t know,” said Gulliford.

Mayor Lenny Curry sent the bill back without his signature and that means the bill will become law.

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