JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville City Council voted down the bill that would change the city's human rights ordinance to include protection based on sexual orientation.
On Wednesday evening, the council voted 10-9 against a substituted version of the bill which did not contain the phrase "gender identity or expression." Then the council voted on the original bill, and that was shot down with a vote of 17-2.
Only Councilwoman Denise Lee and Councilman Warren Jones voted in favor of the original bill.
Jones said the council still has not addressed a way for people who feel discriminated against because of their sexual orientation to be heard.
"We still haven't given them a way to be heard and have those concerns addressed," he said as some people thanked him for trying.
Kim Daniels said she was shocked at the outcome, but she's happy.
"I didn't support the bill," she said. "I don't support discrimination. I'm just happy with the way it came out because that's the side I'm on."
"We won," Daniels then said.
Both Jones and Daniels agreed that the next issue for City Council to tackle is the budget and the pension system.
"I'm ready to do some other things," Daniels said.
That was the general feeling among some councilmembers who favored the bill in committee. They wanted to move the bill to the full Council for a vote to settle the question one way or another after several months of delays.
But with the official vote, some council members say there was not enough proof that widespread discrimination exists. They are also concerned with potential gray areas in the wording of the bill, especially under its original form.
“It went way beyond simply hiring and firing equality,” says attorney Roger Gannam.
He was concerned about the burden this could place on business owners, especially ones who hold strict religious beliefs.
But supporters of the bill say their fight is not done. If the council wants proof, they are willing to give it.
“I think we need to come forward with more stories of discrimination and make sure the city council understands that this is a legitimate concern to the people of Jacksonville,” says Jimmy Midyette.
He says they will continue to work for equal opportunity in the city.