St. Augustine considers housing protection for LGBT community | News

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St. Augustine considers housing protection for LGBT community
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UPDATE, 11/14/12, 10:36 p.m.: The first reading of the LGBT housing anti-discrimination ordinance passed unanimously, according to Paul Williamson, St. Augustine's Director of Public Affairs.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The St. Augustine City Commission is considering a change to an ordinance, making it illegal to discriminate against a person based on his or her sexual orientation when he or she wants to buy or rent a place to live.

Arnold DeLorenzo, who started Olde Carriage Realty in St. Augustine 35 years ago, supports the move.

"I think it's absolutely the right thing to do. Some of our finest citizens are homosexual citizens. We've done business with gay partners for years," DeLorenzo said.

The city already has a law protecting against discrimination based on age, gender, race, and national origin. The proposal would add sexual orientation to the protected classes.

According to the ordinance, the legal definition of "sexual orientation" is "the inclination of an individual with respect to heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual behavior."

Ron Brown is the city attorney. He said, "We haven't had any reports of particular incidents in the past."

Errol Jones, a former city commissioner, proposed the change during the summer. The commissioners approved going forward with drafting an altered ordinance.

On Monday night, commissioners will have a first reading of the ordinance. The second reading will be in December. The commission will take public comment about protection of sexual orientation when it comes to housing.

Everyone First Coast News spoke to Wednesday supports the move.

Rob Lauren lives in St. Augustine and said, "I don't think you should discriminate based on sexual orientation."

Pamela Burroughs recently moved from New York and noted, "Everyone has the right to live regardless of what they believe in."

Nat Silverman is a former businessman and said, "These people are as good as anybody else, and if they have the money to buy ... fine!"

Brown added, "Keep in mind, neither the state nor the federal law recognizes sexual orientation as a protected class."

So the city would be taking the law a step further.

DeLorenzo was surprised it wasn't already on the books.

"I was surprised. When you mentioned it on the phone to me ... I was very surprised," he said.

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