On May 23rd we wrote: “Add Jacksonville, Florida to the growing number of municipalities which are considering or passing laws which would add sexual orientation, gender identity or expression to the list of protected classes of employees.” We made that bold statement because the Jacksonville City Council had conducted a hearing on the bill which would have amended the current law, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on race, religion, age, disability and marital status, to add the words "sexual orientation, gender identity or expression."
Well, we were a little premature in our prediction. News4Jax.com has just reported that the City Council voted 17-2 against this bill. Moreover, even when the words “gender identity or expression" were deleted from the bill, so that the bill would only protect “sexual orientation,” the Council still voted it down 10-9.
This is the first time in awhile that we are aware of such a bill to protect gays and lesbians being voted down. Such laws are “a national trend,” said University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky.
Indeed, as we reported on August 5th, business groups even in "red states" are concerned that their communities will be left behind in recruiting and commerce if they lack such protection, and noted that Idaho plans to “pay very close attention” to whether commerce or recruitment are affected by the lack of protection for sexual orientation.
Moreover, yesterday we blogged that 477 of the 2012 FORTUNE 500 Companies “voluntarily include sexual orientation in their employment non-discrimination policies.”
Add Jacksonville, Florida to those communities that are bucking the national trend.