This article has been updated.
In an attempt to wrest control of Jacksonville’s government from its duly elected representatives, the Washington, D.C., Lynchburg, Virginia and Orlando-based Liberty Counsel has released a three-page memorandum arguing that when Mayor Lenny Curry said he would let the human rights ordinance expansion become law without his signature, even though he does not believe that legislation protecting the LGBT community from discrimination is necessary, he “actually vetoed the HRO.” No, we are not making this up.
The memorandum from Liberty Counsel's assistant vice president of legal affairs, Roger K. Gannam, takes 1,231 words to reach this shocking (read: yawn) conclusion: Until City Council concludes its next meeting on Feb. 28, “…Curry still has the power to veto the HRO.” You may remember Gannam from his ongoing efforts to equate laws banning discrimination against LGBT people with discrimination against those Christians who justify bigotry by clinging to the belief that their faith demands they deny others marriage licenses, wedding cakes and the right to choose their own clothing.
Liberty Counsel launched itself into the national consciousness in 2015 when it volunteered to represent Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who infamously refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples. Keeping with their mission to let certain Christians discriminate against gay people, they parachuted into town the last time HRO came around for a press conference at First Baptist Church that was as long-winded as this memorandum. Deemed “a legal organization advocating for anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of religious liberty” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Liberty Counsel justifies its extremism by equating homosexuality with pedophilia, arguing that homosexual conduct is inherently damaging to society and various other debunked, bigoted and completely inaccurate statements.
In a statement in the email that contained the memorandum, which was helpfully provided to Folio Weekly by the Sante Fe Reporter (yep, New Mexico), Gannam is quoted as saying, “WE URGE MAYOR CURRY TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND VETO THIS RIDICULOUS ‘HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE’. Jacksonville does not have an LGBT discrimination problem that needs to be solved. THIS LAW UNNECESSARILY PUTS WOMEN IN HARM’S WAY BY OPENING THEIR FACILITIES TO MEN, and forces Jacksonville’s businesses and citizens to celebrate the same-sex relationships of others under threat of fines and even loss of their business.” (Side note: Either that left pinky has a tremor or he’s the type to shout his emails.)
Mayor Curry’s office referred Folio Weekly’s inquiries about whether he intended to veto the HRO now that Liberty Counsel had weighed in on the issue to the Office of the General Counsel, otherwise known as political code for ‘don’t waste our time with this nonsense’.
In a statement, general counsel Jason Gabriel told FW via email:
The Charter gives the Mayor a certain timeframe to exercise his right to veto, sign or not sign legislation. The Mayor fulfilled his Charter-prescribed duty the night of the vote by officially letting the law go into effect without his signature. The effective date of the law is the date he signs, or if he chooses not to sign, the date it was enacted by Council. Accordingly, Ordinance 2017-15-E became law on February 14, 2017 without his signature. His action is final.
If Gannam had paid attention to the City Council meetings in which LGBT locals revealed how they’d been discriminated against in Jacksonville, or fully understood that the ordinance does not decriminalize assault, and specifically bans people asserting gender identity in a bathroom for an “improper, illegal or criminal purpose,” or was aware that statistics have repeatedly, and resoundingly, shown that transgender people are overwhelmingly more likely to be the victims of crime than they are to be the perpetrators, or was aware that Lenny Curry may be many things, but wishy-washy he is not, then perhaps Gannam could have saved himself some time and skipped this last-ditch effort to convince the mayor to reverse course on the HRO.
Liberty Counsel and Florida Family Policy Counsil are urging Mayor Curry to veto the legislation at Jacksonville City Hall from noon-1 p.m. on Feb. 22.