Today the city of Gainesville, FL will vote on repealing their LGBT discrimination protections.
A charter amendment that would strip this university city’s anti-discrimination protections extended to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender residents is before voters Tuesday. The fight began after the city commission last year revised Gainesville’s anti-discrimination ordinance to protect transgender people – those who are born one sex but identify with the other. That allows the city’s approximately 100 transgender residents to use the public restroom of their choosing, along with protecting them from job and housing discrimination.
Those supporting repeal say their message has remained consistent: “Keep men out of women’s restrooms!” “That’s our motive, plain and simple,” said Jim Gilbert, a spokesman for Citizens for Good Public Policy. On the other side, a group known as Equality is Gainesville’s Business is campaigning for a “no” vote on Charter Amendment 1. It argues that the city ordinance does not need amending and that the transgender argument is really a screen for a larger attack on sexual minorities. Home to the University of Florida, Gainesville is generally considered a gay-friendly city surrounded by conservative north Florida. “This is about attacking the gay, lesbian, bisexual community and repealing protections that are in place,” said Joe Saunders, a spokesman said. If passed, the measure would void existing city ordinances barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also prohibit the city from enforcing laws barring the city from adding categories not protected by the Florida Civil Rights Act, which recognizes race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, martial and familial status.
The entire campaign is an embarrassing stain on what is normally a relatively progressive college town. Gainesville is home to the massive University of Florida.