Yesterday’s open Council session and today’s vote will provide one last chance for fearmongering before the NDO finally passes.
Among clergy trading pulpit for soap box is the Rev. Ed Young, senior pastor at Houston’s Second Baptist Church, who denounced the proposal for seeking to “elevate sexual preference to a constitutionally protected class.”
In Internet postings, Young urged opponents inside and outside the city to “dare to be a Daniel” in facing down the ordinance.
“Mayor Parker will continue to push the City Council to approve a ‘non-discrimination ordinance’ … more aptly described as a wide-reaching pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ordinance,” Young wrote. “It is a direct threat to the rights of all who live and work in our city.”
Young, whose congregation approaches 64,000 members, argued that the ordinance potentially would open women’s restrooms to male sexual predators dressed in women’s clothing and force businesses to serve clients whose sexual practices they oppose on religious grounds.
“Tolerance,” he wrote, “should not be defined as casting aside and acting against one’s own beliefs to accommodate someone else’s. Simply put, the homosexual community wants us to tolerate their behavior and beliefs, but does not want to give the rest of us that same courtesy. … Their rights should end where our morality and rights begin.”
Pastor Steve Riggle, of Grace Community Church, with about 18,000 members, expressed similar concerns, saying the proposed ordinance “is not just a political issue to us. As a congregation, we are outraged.”
I’m old enough to remember people like Ed Young and Steve Riggle making the same claims about the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 70s. There’s a word for this: it’s called “lying”. I don’t know why professional religious people like Ed Young and Steve Riggle think lying – “bearing false witness against thy neighbor”, if you want to go old school – to advance a political position might be acceptable. Perhaps as professional religious people they have access to a deluxe edition of the Bible that the rest of us don’t that spells out when one can lie with impunity. I would suggest to them that they would be far better off after the NDO passes to rejoice with those who rejoice and leave their anger and fear and lying behind. But I’m not a professional religious person, so what do I know?
Speaking of lying, you will I’m sure be shocked to learn that Dave Wilson is campaigning against the NDO, and in true Dave Wilson fashion he’s doing so by pretending to be African-American. Here’s the email he’s sending out. It claims to be from a “Reverend RJ Ballard” – you can see the header, with my email address edited out, here – but I know it’s from him because the email contains a disclaimer at the end, not visible on that webpage, that says:
Our mailing address is:
Houstonians For Family Values
5600 W 34th St.
Houston, TX 77092
That as we know is one of the warehouses that Dave Wilson claims to be his home. Be that as it may, Google searches for Reverend RJ Ballard and RJ Ballard Houston come up empty, unless you think this guy (the first result for the latter search) is the “reverend” in question. The photo of the “Reverend” in Wilson’s mailer is a stock photo, which you can find via Google image search for “black reverend”; it’s being used here. The photo of the family is surely also a stock photo, though I didn’t see it on a quick scan through Shutterstock. It too is easily found via Google image search, this time for “black family portrait”, which led me here. You’re such a cliche, Dave.
Anyway. The bathroom provision in the ordinance that Young and Riggle and their ilk have been lying about, will be dropped from the final version.
A paragraph specifying that no business open to the public could deny a transgender person entry to the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity had outraged conservatives. Church and Republican political leaders have used the clause to claim the ordinance “provides an opportunity for sexual predators to have access to our families.”
Members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community were equally outraged, however, by a clause that would give businesses an out if the defendant had a “good faith belief” that the person’s claim of being transgender was disingenuous.
The proposed amendment would remove that paragraph of the expansive ordinance. Transgender people barred access to a restroom still would be able to file a discrimination complaint to the city’s Office of Inspector General under the process outlined for all protected characteristics, such as race and veteran status.
“The base ordinance is still the same,” Parker said. “It says you can’t discriminate.”
A pretty simple thing, don’t you think? I’m going to give the last word to Dallas Jones, a political consultant who sent out the following to his email list yesterday:
It’s unfortunate that this conversation has been masked behind issues like religion and the question of gender identity being a choice or biological. The issue is a simple one for me. In order for Houston to be the great city on the hill that it can be, we must make a moral declaration that no one can being treated unfairly in our utopia. It doesn’t matter if someone is born a certain way or what their lifestyle choices lead them to, no one should be made to feel less than human.
HERO, as it’s being called, will also protect African American Houstonians who for too long have been discriminated against in certain parts of town. As an African American male I have witnessed others not only barred entry into an establishment, but also physically assaulted at the door for refusing to leave after being denied entry. There was no recourse for these young men to seek justice. With Houston being a part of the South, it has a history of segregation that sought to keep our great city from coexisting harmoniously. The remnants of segregation are still alive today and it is evident through the makeup of our neighborhoods. These great divides exist not only in geography but within the minds of those that reside in these historic neighborhoods, as well. HERO will seek to protect citizens from being treated differently regardless of what part of town they choose to live, work, or play.
I can understand some of the concern from the community. As a Christian, I try to practice the principles taught through Holy Scripture daily. Therefore, I can’t ignore the principles of love, tolerance, and equality of my fellow man. I have always stated my belief that the Bible is not a textbook for government; it is a religious document that guides our spiritual beliefs. In a country that is founded on the concept of religious freedom we have to embrace the idea that people have a right to believe what they choose and be who they are. When we begin to challenge the notion of protecting our fellow man from being treated wrongly then it is the opinion of this writer that we have lost our way.
Amen to that. Now let’s pass this thing already. Texas Leftist has more.
UPDATE: And “Amen” to today’s Chron editorial.