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Jacksonville's Human Rights Ordinance: The People Must Decide

February 13, 2017 - 6:00am

A Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) -- a City Council proposal that would expand anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community for housing, employment, and public accommodations -- is not, by nature, based on an accurate understanding of human rights violations.

The language in the proposed bill was specifically chosen to market a controversial issue and also attempt to obscure the real motive for it. (Have a look at the proposed bill in the attachment at the end of this column.)
The goal of the national human rights movement  is to have cities like Jacksonville legally place a societal imprimatur on behavior which is against Natural Law as understood by human reason. This is objectionable to a majority of people, including those with deeply held religious convictions.

The proposed ordinance effectively creates special rights when discrimination laws already exist in Jacksonville.

If the ordinance passes, it would financially harm numerous businesses opening them up to frivolous lawsuits, as well as irresponsibly placing women and children at risk for assault in bathrooms, showers and locker rooms.
Putting human rights violations in perspective, we can look to history.
Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were ruthless dictators whose regimes violated human rights. They mercilessly starved and killed millions of Jewish men, women and children solely because of their faith.
In America, slavery was the central issue at stake fighting the Civil War. Northerners fought southerners to free slaves from the brutal, inhumane practice of ownership of black Americans in the U. S. Southerners wanted to continue slavery for their economic profit by harnessing free labor. 

It was so bad that in a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Dred Scott v. Sanford in 1857, blacks were not even considered citizens. 
Slavery was a grave moral injustice and finally eradicated by President Abraham Lincoln. The Dred Scott decision was overturned by the 14th Amendment.
The Civil Rights movement in 1960s peacefully sought to eradicate unjust laws against blacks in education, seating at restaurants, use of hotels or water fountains, seating in transportation, etc.

Those are examples of authentic human rights violations. 
The proposed Jacksonville HRO is egregious and illegal. Under the specious argument of "discrimination," the law would strip business owners and citizens of Jacksonville of the rights guaranteed to them under the U.S. Constitution, specifically the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights as it pertains to religious freedoms: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The liberties guaranteed in the First Amendment are exactly why many pilgrims came to America: to escape the established government religion of the Church of England. Americans sought freedom to worship God according to their beliefs.

When Jacksonville City Councilmen take their oath of office, they place their hand on a Bible and solemnly swear to “uphold, honor and defend the Constitution of the United States and its laws,” and end their investiture by stating, “so help me God.”

Whoever votes affirmatively for this bill does not possess a clear understanding of the Constitution. 

More important, a yes vote would violate his/her professed oath of office as an elected representative of the people of Jacksonville.
The HRO is a solution to a problem that does not exist. In the past 10 years, only seven incidents in Jacksonville occurred which were resolved out of court.

Forbes Magazine, as well as The Wall Street Journal, currently rank Jacksonville as the No. 2 city in the country to live in, and its economy is thriving without this ordinance.

It can also be argued that some in the Jacksonville Council, whether knowingly or not, are "establishing a religion" with a totalitarian world-view called by many names, including secular atheism and cultural Marxism, where God is not acknowledged.

If the HRO bears merit at becoming a law, the decision should be put in front of the voters on a citywide referendum. The open-ended language in the legislation (Section 8) giving the General Counsel’s Office permission to further add to this deeply flawed bill after its passage is reason enough for its defeat.  That wording is a blank check with unknown outcomes that no conscientious member should vote for.

Nineteen people on the Jacksonville City Council do not possess the authority to strip the Constitutional rights of the citizens of their community guaranteed by the laws of our country. 

Mayor Lenny Curry should let the City Council know, in no uncertain terms, that if they pass the HRO, he will veto it and allow the people of Jacksonville to decide.

Nancy Peek McGowan is president of the Conservative Republican Forum of Jacksonville. She is also a finance builder for conservative Republican candidates statewide and on the national level.


The original HRO was not put up for referendum, the city council passed it without a public vote. The idea that we should vote on anyone's right to not be fired or not be evicted because of who they love is simply ridiculous.

When the Jacksonville City Council voted on the original HRO, they put up everyone's right to a vote! The people have the exact same right to vote as their elected Council members.

This woman & those like her are fighting a losing war. One day the LGBT community will be fully covered under federal anti discrimination law and as with marriage equality it will be a fait accompli.

I see no attachment at the end of the column you refer to Nancy Peek McGowan.

Discrimination laws already exist in Jacksonville but this ordinance would strip citizens and businesses of their Constitutionally protected rights under the laws of the United States, and prohibit them to live by their conscience and being obedient to the teachings of Christ. That is not "turning your nose up" or "discriminating" that is being loyal to their faith.

Discrimination is still unchristian. Bigotry is still backwards and vile. Hatred is still thinly veiled. And those who turn up their noses at human rights, are the ones who've discriminated against others while never knowing the ugliness of being discriminated against, or how it hurts the ones you love, or how it makes them cry.

Sir, you speak of discrimination and offer no proof to substantial your claim. The author stated 7 claims in over a decade...all settled out of court and at least 5 in 2014-2016 were all found to be frivolous. There is no demonstrated need and it will cause harm to individuals and businesses in violation of constitutional law.

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