“I'm excited about it because I feel the city is taking the rightstep unlike some folks in Jacksonville who didn't approve some of the equal rights,” said Tim Millbern.
Millbern and his partner operate At Journey's End, a gay-friendly bed and breakfast in St. Augustine. Moving from the big city of Boston, Millbern was surprised a ban on discriminating against sexual orientation wasn't already in the books in St. Augustine or Jacksonville. It's been a fiercely debated issue in the River City. Council members shot down the proposed expansion of Jacksonville's human rights ordinance this month. This week, the issue slipped south to St. Augustine.
“The St. Augustine culture and the growth of our community recently, yes, they would be very open to this,” said city attorney Ron Brown.
St. Augustine commissioners voted 4-0 Monday to add sexual orientation to the list of reasons why people can not be denied housing in the city.
Brown says that the new ordinance will provide more protection than existing state or federal laws do. That's welcome news for Millbern. "If it's not there that means you can discriminate basically and that shouldn't be the case for any human being."
Brown’s office will draft the ordinance then it must go through two readings including public comment before a final vote is taken on the issue. The new ordinance is expected to go through a first reading by early October.
The city’s ordinance currently bans discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, familial status, national origin or handicap.