Deadline For Petitioners Fighting Transgender Ordinance
"Keep men out of women's restrooms."
That's the message petitioners gave when collecting signatures for a charter amendment. But, their opponents say it's a much bigger issue than that. They say the proposed amendment would really take away local officials' power to make their own anti-discrimination laws.
"When something is this controversial, the people ought to decide," said Jim Gilbert.
Jim Gilbert says he doesn't think city officials should be able to make their own rules when it comes to anti-discrimination laws. That's why he's helped spearhead a campaign to get a charter amendment on the november ballot.
"What we want to see is the code of ordinances conform to the state of Florida which is where civil rights categories at a state level should be dealt with," said Gilbert.
They needed ten percent of the city's electorate to sign. That's more than 5500 signatures.
University of Florida Law Professor Joe Jackson says he thinks there's a misunderstanding in what the charter amendment would actually do. He says it's not as simple as keeping men out of women's restrooms. It would instead keep city commissioners from making their own decisions about anti-discrimination laws.
"So, it will effectively amend the city charter," said Jackson. "It would amend the city charter and disable the city from being able to protect the people."
People that Gainesville City Commissioner Craig Lowe says deserve that kind of protection locally whether they're in state statutes or not.
"We are confident that the citizens of Gainesville will oppose efforts to repeal discrimination protections based on sexual orientations and gender identity," said Lowe.
Organizers of the petition say they turned in 8,681 signatures to the Supervisor of Elections' office. Office staff have 45 days to sort through those signatures and make sure they are valid. Only registered voters who live within city limits could participate.
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