Jacksonville City Council in the US state of Florida has voted to deny its LGBT residents the employment protections it affords other groups.
Council members voted 17 to 2 on Wednesday against an ordinance that would have protected gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Floridians from being fired for their sexuality or gender identity, while a bill which would have protected people from being fired over their sexual identity but not their gender identity was defeated in a vote of 10 to 9.
Council members Warren Jones and Denise Lee, the bill’s co-sponsors, were the only ones to vote for the original version of the ordinance.
LGBT rights group the Jacksonville Committee for Equality vowed to fight on.
‘We will continue the conversations that we began with those who voted against the bill tonight,’ the committee said in a statement.
‘We believe that given more time and discussion, we will be able to persuade a majority of the City Council of the great need to pass a Human Rights Ordinance amendment that covers sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.’
‘For the past two years, the LGBT community and our allies have grown a grassroots political network that has made the issues, concerns, and status of the LGBT community a part of the civic discourse in Jacksonville. We will continue to nurture and grow our political network and will return to the City Council as many times as is necessary until justice is done.’
Anti-gay lobby group the Florida Family Policy Council hailed the vote as a victory.
‘This is an extraordinary victory for the people of Jacksonville who rose up and made it clear they were not going to allow some secret council of elite power brokers or activists from outside Jacksonville to force extreme policies upon them,’ Florida Family Policy Council president John Stemberger said.
‘I believe we are seeing the tables start to turn on gay rights issues when Americans see how really extreme these left-wing activists are. These are not just people who have a same sex attraction and want to be left alone to freely define themselves. This is a radical group of political operatives who want to force their aberrant views on human sexuality upon the rest of society by the mandate and penalty of law.’
The Florida Family Policy Council organized an email and telephone campaign targeting council members on the bill as well as paying for radio commercials and automated calls to Jacksonville residents.