Two bills to expand Jacksonville's HRO withdrawn by City Council

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two bills to expand Jacksonville's Human Rights Ordinance to include the LGBT community in anti-discrimination legislation were withdrawn at a city council meeting Thursday.

Councilman Tommy Hazouri's proposal would have brought the expansion to a council vote, while Councilman Bill Gulliford's bill would leave the decision up to voters with a referendum.

The council voted against expansion of the HRO in 2012.

Hazouri decided to withdraw 2016-2 after receiving blowback from the council, specifically Councilwoman Lori Boyer who wanted the bills removed until Mayor Lenny Curry's expansion of anti-discrimination legislation for city employees could be evaluated.

"I'm not here to say 'take it or leave it,' that's not what this is about," Hazouri said. "This is not about you or me today, this is about a community."

Following Hazouri's announcement of his intent to withdraw the bill last week, Gulliford said he too would pull his measure off the table.

While the majority of the council appeared to understand Hazouri's intent to reintroduce the bill in a few months, Gulliford told the council at Thursday's meeting that he no longer wanted to withdraw his bill because he thought Hazouri would be permanently pulling his proposal off the table.

"This continues to be the controversy that sucks the air out of this chamber," Gulliford said.

After much debate from council members, Gulliford conceded that withdrawing both bills was "procedurally" the right decision and withdrawal was approved with an 18-1 vote.

Hazouri said he welcomes questions and advice from his colleagues to increase the chances of his bill passing.