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Jacksonville FL (March 1, 2017) District 11 Council Member Danny Becton provides final thoughts on his vote on the HRO Ordinance 2017-015:

“The reason I did not support this Bill was simple, it was bad legislation. While, I do not support discrimination for anyone, as a 25+ year small business owner that has employed many LGB team members, this bill will cause more discrimination not less and place business owners in peril trying to manage, an unmanageable situation, I will explain.

My concerns, as an advocate for “Small Business” owners across our city, in addition to representing my District, is that this Ordinance Bill has huge potential liabilities while doing “nothing” to protect the LGBT community. The Bill has passed with ambiguities throughout for which no business owner could possible know how to comply with. Yes, corporate “Public” companies are in support of this Bill at the expense of their “privately held” counterparts due to self-serving motivations. Large corporations have internal Legal and HR departments to support frivolous accusations that turn into law suits supported by organizations looking to make an example of someone. In the end, I believe the Bill will cause “more” discrimination” not less, by creating a “silent” discrimination by businesses deciding not to hire LBGT candidates because of the potential liability, if they do. Personally, I have had many LGB individuals work for me, good employees… as far as I’m concerned, I do not care what someone does when they leave their place of employment, but while employed, the owner of the company calls the shots; Florida is an “at will” state, the employer and the employee are empowered to terminate their employment for “any” reason. Absent of someone actually being dumb enough to making a discriminating statement for cause, how will discrimination be proven?

Let’s read the bill and actually look at what it says and what business owners will be held to trying to interpret and not break the law:”

1) “the definition of sexual orientation shall be added and shall mean an individual’s actual or perceived orientation as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual”.

2) “may be demonstrated by appearance or expression”?

3) “may be demonstrated by a person’s consistent and uniform assertion of a particular gender identity”.

4) “may be demonstrated by other evidence that a person’s gender identity is sincerely held”.

5) “provided, however, that gender identity shall not be asserted for any improper, illegal or criminal purpose”.

“The penalty in our code for violating these points above is now a $500 fine and the legal cost to defend one’s self …. These are liabilities owners are now held to, to try and follow on words like: “perceived orientation, expression, uniform assertion, sincerely held and improper”, as NO definitions are provided to follow. Therefore, a committee of non-elected citizens, probably very politically motivated will decide the fate of an accusation, resulting in a very subjective, undefined terms and conditions. Not to mention the cost of frivolous accusations of someone who has been terminated and says “You only fired me because of _________”. Have you ever known a person who has been terminated to be happy about it?”

“In conclusion, I have asked every LGBT organization during the past two years, “How will this bill reduce or eliminate discrimination among LGBT individuals”? I have yet to get a specific answer to that question, except to say, “It’s the right thing to do” or “It will make our city look good”. Ok, if that is the case, we should have passed a Resolution, not an Ordinance. I would have totally supported that! I am not for regulations that do nothing but only hurt someone else. This past 20 months or so, I have pushed back on several “regulation” bills that all have good intentions but sought out hurting the business community already burden with too much government interference. I ultimately supported those bills but had major influence in their modification to be more sensitive to their unintended consequences.”

Since the Bill has been officially enacted as of February 28th, 2017:

As to this bill, on February 2, 2017, at a special meeting called by CM Gulliford, I spoke at length to the deception that had and was taking place in regards to this bill. Proponents of this bill were marketing this bill as simpler, friendlier and that they had listened to the opposition and had cut it down from 45 pages to 5. This was totally disingenuous to say it nicely. In my research, which is always thorough, I discovered, it was exactly the same bill but just less transparent. The 40 pages that the proponents insinuated were gone, they were just hidden behind section two which read:

Section 2. Amending Sections 60.105, 400.101, 400.301, 402.102, 402.107(g) (1), 402.107(g)(3), 402.201, 402.202, 402.203, 402.204, 402.206, 402.210, 402.211, 406.102, 406.104(g)(1), 406.104(g)(3), 406.201, 408.102, 408.204, 408.401, 408.402, 408.403, 408.404, 408.406, and 408.407, Ordinance Code.

“Unfortunately, to my constituents, you did not read this in the Florida Times Union or hear from the media and to that end, you did not have all of the facts. You did not have both sides of the story and based on a law suit filed on March 1st, 2017, the practice that I described and warned the general public about on February 28nd. This deception is against State Law as referenced by the link below in Charter 166.041 Procedures for adoption of ordinance and resolutions, specifically 166.041 (2) which states “No ordinance shall be revised or amended by reference to its title only. Ordinances to revise or amend shall set out in full the revised or amended act or section or subsection or paragraph of a section or subsection.”

Click Here to Link to State Statute 166.021 

“As I stated, this ordinance was “Bad Legislation”! 

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