Jacksonville, FL - The LGBT community is getting support from an unlikely source.
The Rev. R.L. Gundy, pastor of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church, who once opposed a new human rights ordinance is now changing sides.
Two years ago, he had a change of heart when a 24-year-old member of his congregation lost his battle with AIDS.
“When he laid before us in the congregation at his home-going service, I asked my church, ‘I wonder if he would be alive if he'd have felt like he could come home,’” Gundy said.
Now, he hopes more people, especially those in the religious community, will endorse an HRO and embrace equality.
”I think Jacksonville has to come out of the dark ages of discrimination and into the light ages of inclusiveness,” Gundy said.
The HRO debate is once again taking center stage three years after an ordinance failed, largely due to backlash from the religious community.
Now, more than 75 faith leaders have pledged their support for this issue.
The second of three community conversations held by Mayor Lenny Curry is schedule for Thursday night at Edward Waters College. Expanding the HRO is likely to be a talking point from citizens.
Jacksonville is the largest city in the nation that doesn’t have civil liberties for the LGBT community.