Jacksonville, FL - Community advocates are hoping the next battleground for expanding discrimination protections in Northeast Florida is in Atlantic Beach.
“If we want to be kind of the pioneer community to pass the ordinance, I think that’s a positive step,” says Atlantic Beach Commissioner Maria Mark.
She says since Jacksonville voted down a “Human Rights Ordinance” which would have extended protections based on sexual orientation, she has explored the idea of bringing something similar to Atlantic Beach. While there are already some basic discrimination protections for city employees, Mark says that doesn’t go far enough.
“We don’t have anything that actually expands in to our city,” she says.
The hope of the advocates she has been working with is that Atlantic Beach would be a sort of gateway.
“They felt like the Beaches area, the Beaches community would be a nice way to start that movement,” she says.
But the future of the movement could actually depend on the city which already turned it away.
She says in addition to getting community input right now, they are working to legally determine how Atlantic Beach would enforce such an ordinance, if it existed. She says, right now, they have no authority to enforce such an ordinance and would typically turn to Jacksonville’s Human Rights Commission. As part of drafting and screening the ordinance, Mark says they will look at drafting some kind of agreement with Jacksonville.