Mascotte is a small city of a little more than 5,000 people, but that’s not stopping them from tackling a big, national issue.
“I kind of see this in the sense that this is almost maybe the equal rights of 2015," said Mascotte city manager Jim Gleason.
"That we are an open, progressive city for all types of people. Race and religion and sexual orientation," said Mascotte Mayor Brenda Brasher.
On Monday night, Mascotte City Council unanimously approved a new local human rights ordinance which prohibits discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation in Mascotte.
The ordinance is aimed at protecting members of the LGBT community from being discriminated against in employment, housing and public accommodations because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
“For a small city in Lake County, a conservative county, in a conservative part of the county, and when you’re trying to attract businesses and grow sometimes you want to send the right message that you’re an all-inclusive community and you’re open to everybody. And we don’t discriminate," Gleason explained.
The new law does create exemptions for religious and non-profit organizations.
“If you’re a landlord or you’re a business owner or you’ve got a business building that you can’t just discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation,” Gleason added. “But again, the religious exemption is carved out so that we do respect freedom of religion and government itself is staying out of the religious part of the issue."
Gleason further explained the ordinance is not only about being on the right side of history but also being a leading municipality in the state of Florida.
“It’s a nice opportunity to be able to play a small role and also hopefully an important role that may send a message both to the state, that this should be something they should be taking a look at, and maybe even the county itself," Gleason said.