Liberty Counsel won a 3-0 appellate victory today against Jacksonville, Florida’s 2017 ordinance that added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as “protected categories” under Jacksonville law “Human Rights Ordinance” (HRO).
In the lawsuit, Parsons v. City of Jacksonville, Liberty Counsel represents Jacksonville residents and businesses in their challenge to invalidate an amendment to the HRO, because its authors and sponsors illegally hid the effects of the ordinance through intentionally deceptive drafting and messaging.
The trial court twice dismissed Liberty Counsel’s case against the HRO on the theory that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to file the lawsuit because they are not injured yet or injured enough by the city’s illegal act. In this third round the state Court of Appeals sided with Liberty Counsel, finding that the citizen plaintiffs were injured by the city’s deceptive practice in presenting the HRO for passage, and that this deceptive practice of not revealing the intent and scope of the law invalidates it.
Liberty Counsel Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs Roger Gannam said, “This decision exposes the deception of the HRO authors and sponsors and rejects the city’s attempt to cover it up with its own deception in the form of clever procedural maneuvers in the city council. A city ordinance that cannot be passed openly and honestly is good for no one. The fair and honest people of Jacksonville should not be forced to participate in others’ celebrations of same-sex relationships under threat of fines or loss of their businesses, and Jacksonville’s women and young girls should feel safe from predatory men in their own restrooms and facilities. We are thankful that the appellate court corrected the trial court’s errors.”