Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Human Rights Campaign Applauds Vote to Uphold Non-Discrimination Laws in Gainesville, Florida

Human Rights Campaign (HRC)Image by PDX Pixels via Flickr

Gainesville Voters Defeated Ballot Measure Seeking to Repeal Protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender People

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following release regarding voting in a city election in Gainesville, Florida today, where voters rejected a proposed amendment to the city charter that would have repealed existing laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Amendment 1, which would have repealed ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, was defeated 58 percent to 42 percent.

“This is an important victory for equality, for the proposition that people deserve to be judged based on their merits, and should not face discrimination simply because of who they are,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Gainesville voters saw past the deception and scare tactics used by proponents of Amendment 1 and made clear that Gainesville rejects discrimination against any of its residents, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

Solmonese continued: “Congratulations to Commissioner Craig Lowe, Equality is Gainesville’s Business, Equality Florida, the ACLU, as well as Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, and the rest of the city commission, and the many activists, including HRC members, who worked so hard to protect equality for everyone in Gainesville.”

Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan added: “As Mayor, I am extremely pleased that Gainesville voters chose to reaffirm that discrimination has no place in our city. Many thanks to Equality is Gainesville’s Business and the hundreds of tireless volunteers who represented the true values of Gainesville. These volunteers demonstrated the diversity and expertise within our community, representing such groups as the NAACP of Alachua County, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of Florida, the University of Florida Student Senate and others.”

The Human Rights Campaign has had a field director on the ground in Gainesville for more than a month working with Equality is Gainesville’s Business (a group formed to oppose Amendment 1), Equality Florida, HRC members and other activists to organize opposition to Amendment 1. A field organizer was sent to Gainesville to assist for the past two weeks. Their work included organizing door to door canvassing and phone banks to voters.

Gainesville ordinances have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1998. Discrimination based on gender identity has been prohibited since January 2008. A petition drive last year placed Amendment 1 on the ballot in today’s city election.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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