Gainesville, the bustling Central Florida town that is home to the massive University Of Florida campus, will next month vote on a repeal of that city’s LGBT rights ordinances. Christianist activists there have placed an amendment on the ballot that will make it legal to fire, not hire, and deny housing to LGBT people.
Charter Amendment One, if approved, would make the city of Gainesville’s anti-discrimination ordinance the same as the Florida Civil Rights Act, removing current protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. Proponents of the amendment say it is needed to repeal an addition to the city’s ordinance made in early 2008 that prohibited discrimination against persons based on their “gender identity” in the realm of housing, employment, credit and public accommodation.
They say the public accommodation part is ripe for abuse by sexual predators who could not be denied access to the opposite sex’s restroom by the owner of an establishment. Opponents of the amendment say it is a step backward in tolerance and would allow someone to not rent an apartment, deny credit or even fire a person based solely on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Additionally, opponents are concerned about the part of the amendment that prohibits the city from establishing preferences or special consideration for any category of people not included in the state’s civil rights law. Opponents say that would prevent the city from offering special consideration to employing veterans and giving work contracts to local companies.
The backers of the measure are running television ads depicting shadowy men following little girls into ladies restroom, implying that transgender rapists are running wild in Gainesville. This weekend University of Florida students marched in opposition to the amendment.