Palm Bay Considering “Human Rights” Ordinance
The Palm Bay City Council will consider a controversial “human rights” ordinance Thursday. The proposal would add protections against discrimination for people based on sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to employment, housing, and public accommodations.
The ordinance has passionate support and opposition. The measure’s sponsor, Councilwoman Michele Paccione, said she wants everyone in Palm Bay to feel like they are part of an inclusive community.
“I have friends that get discriminated against all the time, and it just didn’t seem right to me that they’re not treated fairly and equally in the community as everyone else is,” said Paccione.
Evangelical Center Pointe Church has collected more than 300 signatures against the ordinance. Pastor Tom Walker said he’s concerned the measure would dictate who his church rents its buildings to.
“There’s openness in the way it’s written that would require us to rent it to people that maybe we don’t agree with their moral standard,” said Walker.
Opponents also worry about child predators using the ordinance to access restrooms of the opposite sex. The LGBT advocacy group Equality Florida says the “transgender bathroom predator” is a myth, and adds that 41 local governments in Florida have similar ordinances.
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