St. Augustine Beach considers housing protection for LGBT community

6:26 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -- St. Augustine Beach is considering an ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation when it comes to housing.

In St. Augustine -- the city next door -- John Gallagher and his partner Tim Millbern own and operate At Journey's End, a bed and breakfast.

"We wouldn't have come to St. Augustine if we thought they weren't gay friendly," Gallagher said Tuesday.

Their B&B is gay-friendly and they welcome all people.

Gallagher learned about St. Augustine Beach's proposed ordinance to make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation when it comes to renting or buying a home. He said, "I think it's about time!"

St. Augustine just passed a similar ordinance last year, and that's what spurred the St. Augustine Beach city commission to consider it, according to city documents.

A similar ordinance failed in Jacksonville.

A chunk of the economies in St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach is tourism. The top tourism official in St. Johns County is glad to hear about the proposed ordinance in St. Augustine Beach.

Richard Goldman is the Executive Director of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau. He said, "The truth is that any city or entity that says we're accepting of any group of people is good for tourism because it makes people feel comfortable and welcomed... and that's consistent with what we do."

From the welcome sign on the front porch to the freshly baked cookies in the kitchen, Gallagher believes in making people feel welcomed too.

He thinks St. Augustine benefits from its ban on sexual orientation discrimination, and that the city next door will as well.

"I think if a place is great to visit anyone will come," Gallagher noted, "but a group does not want to come here if they feel odd." He added, "They want to be included."

The St. Augustine Beach city commission will take up the proposed ordinance February 4th.

First Coast News

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