Friday, February 16, 2018

Staver and Stemberger are trying to unconstitutionally rewrite Florida law

Empower Jacksonville
The text at the bottom of this website image reads: "Jacksonville City Government is working against its citizens. We should be able to repeal unfair and unjust laws." Behind the smiles in the stock photo is anti-LGBT bigotry.
In February of 2017 the Jacksonville city counsel passed, an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against LGBT people. That made hate group leader Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel very sad. Staver launched a vigorous effort to get Mayor Lenny Curry to veto the measure which would have been futile given that it passed the council by a super-majority. Staver is still fuming that gay and trans people cannot be put in their place.

John Stemberger
More recently another hate monger, John Stemberger of Florida Family Policy Council, created some AstroTurf with a new group called Empower Jacksonville. Its purpose was to collect signatures to get an initiative on the ballot for the August primary elections that would amend the city charter to allow for referenda to repeal measures passed by city counsel. If they accomplished that then the next step would be to create a referendum for the November ballot to repeal the human rights ordinance they don't like. However, neither Florida law nor the city charter allow for the charter to be amended by ballot initiative.

They acquired oodles of signatures while obscuring the real intent of the petitions. The city attorney, General Counsel Jason Gabriel, issued a memo disallowing the flawed initiative because is would violate both state and city law.

Lost in all of this is why it is so necessary to be able to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We are not dealing with normal people here. This is, after all, the handiwork Mat Staver and John Stemberger.

Enter American Family Association

Chris Woodward on of AFA's bloggers writes: “Say what? Voters have no authority over their legislature?” Of course voters have the authority to alter the composition of the city counsel through their votes for council members. In Florida, Mr. Woodward, ballot measures that would repeal legislative actions are impermissible. There is also a lengthy process to amend a city charter that does not include piecemeal adjustments at the whim of the electorate. It is how, for example, the United States Congress works.

Mat Staver is now even more displeased. Poor Mat. According to AFA:
Mat Staver
Mat Staver with Liberty Counsel disagrees. “The citizens certainly have done their work, and we believe they have the authority,” says the attorney whose organization is representing Empower Jacksonville.

“All of the people involved ... are considering the next legal alternatives to this frankly flawed ruling, but it's just because of this single opinion by an individual that these signatures are going to just simply be put to the side and he's not going to allow the citizens to have the right to vote. So the next legal option is obviously to go to court.”
I find it astonishing that a supposed church auxiliary (Liberty Counsel) is able to involve itself in Florida politics. Under that IRS ruling Jonathan Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church is supposed to provide a majority of Liberty Counsel's revenues which means that Thomas Road Baptist Church, in Virginia, is interfering in Florida politics.

Without a client controlling the legal bills, Staver will go to court. When he loses, he will appeal, when he loses the appeal, he will attempt to get the case before the United States Supreme Court. All this and all this expense, largely by taxpayers, because Staver and Stemberger cannot get out of bed in the morning if they cannot discriminate against LGBT people.

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