June 29, 2016
3 mins read

Jacksonville has not had a good track record during the LGBT rights debates of the last few years.

The HRO made it to City Council in 2012. The fully inclusive version, which would’ve protected the entire LGBT community from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, fell 17 to 2.

The LGB version, which left the transgender, intersex, and gender-fluid communities in the lurch, fell 10 to 9.

Johnny Gaffney voted against the bill, claiming he was leaned on by former Mayor Alvin Brown.

Of course, those claims were made against the backdrop of the mayoral campaign.

And despite his “confusion” about the vote in 2012, and his belated recounting of the pressure he purportedly faced, he now works in the mayor’s office.

In 2016, we’ve already seen an iteration of the HRO come and quickly go from Council Chambers.

A long and winding process, which included community conversations held by the mayor and one-and-a-half of three scheduled special council meetings to discuss the bill, ended unceremoniously when bill sponsor Tommy Hazouri pulled it because he didn’t think he had the votes.

Hazouri is going to bring the bill back after the pension tax vote in August; he’s on the fundraising committee for the effort pushing it, Yes For Jacksonville, but it remains to be seen if he’ll get any more mayoral help than he did a few months back, when Curry short-circuited the HRO debate with an employment directive banning employment-related discrimination among city workers or their vendors.

One of the loudest voices against Hazouri’s HRO — and Hazouri himself — has been “Bishop-Designate” Ken Adkins, who has become persona non grata among city politicians since he Tweeted, in the wake of the Pulse massacre, that he had “Been through so much with these Jacksonville Homosexuals that I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as
getting what they deserve!”

Adkins, who got incredible leeway for character assassination in the HRO debate, saw his luck end. Curry, who hosted two community conversations in which Adkins was on the discussion panel, called the rhetoric “appalling,” “sick,” and claimed that Adkins was picked by staff members to be on the panel.

Some take that at face value. Others are skeptical.

Adkins sent a CYA email to Curry within hours of getting blowback.

Ironically enough, he sent one to Hazouri in the same time frame, effectively saying that it was politics, and politics is a tough business.

Hazouri’s response? Not printable in a family newspaper, but the exact words that Dick Cheney said to Patrick Leahy one time on the Senate floor last decade.

Adkins isn’t done walking back his ridiculous posturing, as a lead letter in The Florida Times-Union last week indicates.

“I was asked to give voice to concerns about the transgender school bathroom issue. The concerns of this faith-based organization arose out of a desire to help the community, not to hurt it,” Adkins said about his months-long social media assault, a farrago of anti-LGBT slurs that saw multiple politicians tagged on Twitter to see such assaults on the conscience as Hazouri’s face Photoshopped onto images from gay porn.

Was that helping the community?

Adkins goes on to say that “my work has been credited by many as leading to the bill’s withdrawal.”

This is true, in that councilmembers who said they supported the HRO when running for office were too gutless to stand by their colleague who introduced that bill. Of course, that came at the expense of trivializing and rendering monstrous the positions of those opposing the bill. But what would he care? He’s from Georgia.

Adkins went on to maunder about being discriminated against: “asked to move by my landlord at the urging of the Jacksonville LGBT community … fired by an attorney handling an unrelated legal matter for me … received many death threats.”

How does an attorney fire someone? These letters are supposed to be “edited for clarity.”

After misquoting his own Tweet, Adkins then goes on to talk about his affinity for gay people in his own life: “It did not occur to me that this would be misconstrued so as to apply to the 49 innocent lives taken at Pulse … [!!!!!!!] … my best friend in the world is gay and I love him like a brother. My nephew is gay and is married to a wonderful man. I love them both. One of my older brothers died from complications caused by AIDS.”

Just curious: How did his best friend or his nephew feel about the months of Adkins’ bottom-feeding in Jacksonville, getting treated as a credible voice of social conservatism?

Ken Adkins will be back, soon enough, pimping some issue before the Council in public comment.

This time around, maybe someone on that body will stand up and call him out on his foulness. It’s long past time he got ran out of the public discourse.

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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