Local human Rights Boards can be important places for minority communities to bring forward issues and concerns in their municipalities. The purpose of these boards are right in the name: Human Rights. They deal with issues around discrimination.
Don't tell that to Jacksonville City Councilman Clay Yarborough. Yarborough asked a Jacksonville Human Rights Commission nominee about his views on same-sex marriage and his tenure on the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida's board and the ACLU of Florida. The councilman also asked the man and another female nominee to disclose whether they support prayer in public buildings, the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on government seals and “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Both of the nominees and the mayor's office (who put forward the two potential Board members) said Yarborough's questions were irrelevant.
Although Yarborough had never asked such questions of nominees before, he did so now because:
I believe they are pertinent because of the gravity of the matters that the Human Rights Commission can deal with.
Basically Yarborbourgh wanted to see if he could get nominees on a Human Rights Board that would discriminate while dealing with issues surrounding discrimination. And this isn't his first time at the right-wing rodeo.
Yarbourogh was one of two elected officials who, at a Duval County School Board meeting a few years ago, came out to specifically oppose a move to consider amending its polices to include sexual orientation as a protected class in several areas of it policies. At the time he was a member of the Soil and Water Board. The other official who spoke out was Lake Ray who cited ugly anti-gay “statistics” from the debunked researcher Paul Cameron.
As for Human Rights Board nominees, one appointee, University of North Florida professor Pervez Ahmad, answered Yarborough's questions and was recommended for approval. The other, Florida Coastal School of Law professor Susan Harthill, did not. Yarborough blocked her appointment, saying he:
didn't have enough information about her to know whether she was a good fit.
When pressed about why he asked such questions and blocked a nominee, Yarborough said that if gay marriage became a topic before the Human Rights Commission, he would want to know whether any potential member supported changing current state law:
It would concern me if someone of that belief was on that board if they could address that issue.
Because anyone who believes in human rights (and doesn't agree with Yarborough) isn't a good “fit” for a independent commission set to deal with human rights and discrimination.
I'm guessing the hypocrisy of questioning and blocking nominees using discriminatory reasoning for a position on the Human Rights Board is lost on someone like Yarborourgh, who's only agenda appears to be furthering his personal anti-LGBT, anti-Islamic, and anti-Equality right-wing fundamentalist agenda.
So much for representing all residents…