Gainseville, Florida to Legalize Discrimination?

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2009

We’ve followed dozens of measures around the country to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. But never before not since Colorado’s Amendment 2 (which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996) have we seen a ballot measure which would actually legalize discrimination:

…a city charter amendment has been drafted by a Michigan group that would take away Gainesville’s local power to establish our own equal opportunity laws.

There has been a false fear-based campaign to cloak the true impact of this amendment that would damage people’s lives and diminish our community.

This amendment, if passed, would prohibit Gainesville from providing antidiscrimination protections not included in specific statutes of Florida law. This charter amendment would make it perfectly legal to fire someone or deny housing just because of sexual orientation or gender identity, since these protections are not in county, state or federal law. It would also be impossible for Gainesville to add protections for political affiliation or economic status.

The proposed charter amendment is in reaction to the passage of the 2008 Gender Identity Ordinance, which added a prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

Update: Okay, I wrote this way too late last night. There have been plenty of instances where voters have decided to discriminate where discrimination had been outlawed previously. Our commenters are counting the ways. Go ahead and add your example to the list.

[Hat tip: Dan Savage]


February 24th, 2009

“But never before have we seen a ballot measure which would actually legalize discrimination”

Um, try Colorado Amendment 2. That removed the ability of Colorado citizens to provide protections to LGBT citizens.

Thankfully found to be unconstitutional by the USSC (Romer v. Evans).

Jim Burroway

February 24th, 2009

How could I have forgotten that? Thanks.

Stefano A

February 24th, 2009

There was also Cincinnati, Ohio’s ELEVEN YEAR battle for the repeal
of an ordinance passed in 1993 that prohibited the city council from
creating a gay rights ordinance.

It specifically prohibited the city from granting rights to gays, lesbians or bisexuals. The pertinent ordinance is known as Article XII.

It wasn’t repealed until 2004.

Richard W. Fitch

February 24th, 2009

Please explain how a Michigan group is able to propose laws for a Florida city? Following the link to the original article did not prove enlightening.


February 24th, 2009

Shoot, there’s also the various ballot measures promulgated by the Oregon Citizen’s Alliance in the late ’80s and early ’90s to prevent the state granting “special rights” to homos. And how about California’s Prop 6 in 1978 (the Briggs Initiative) which would’ve mandated discrimination in hiring of public school teachers? Wikipedia pegs that as “the first attempt to restrict gay and lesbian rights through a ballot measure.”

Mark F.

February 24th, 2009

I do not believe anyone has the “right” to COMPEL (by government force) someone to associate, employ or do business with them. I say defend absolute freedom of association.

L. Junius Brutus

February 24th, 2009

Mark F., you think that passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was wrong – which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, religion and sex in the areas of employment and public accommodations?

Funny how ‘freedom of association’ is only an issue when people are defending discrimination and bigotry against one group of people.

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