A so-called “fairness” ordinance was reintroduced to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council on July 23rd as a slight modification to previous efforts cleverly titled “One Baton Rouge.” This ordinance, unlike its predecessor, boldly goes into every private civil conversation and contract. It is aimed at providing special protections for “sexual orientation” (voluntary homosexual and bisexual conduct) and “gender identity” not based on biological gender at birth, but “internal sense of gender.”It should more accurately be called the Homosexual Affirmation Ordinance.
This ordinance should be opposed by anyone who believes in freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion and a free market economy. Here are a few reasons why:
- “Sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are unlike characteristics protected in civil rights laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex or religion. The first four of these are included largely because they are inborn, involuntary, immutable and morally neutral characteristics. Religion, while voluntary, is explicitly protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Sexual attraction, sexual conduct and transgender behavior do not meet any of these criteria.
- This ordinance would lead to costly lawsuits against employers, inviting disgruntled employees to sue for alleged “discrimination,” even when no discrimination was actually intended.
- The ordinance’s “religious exemption” provision is inadequate. It fails to protect individuals who have objections outside of their places of worship, meaning Christian bookstores, battered women’s shelters, and independent private and parochial schools could all be subject to costly litigation.
- The ordinance would be an official government declaration that homosexual behavior is the new equivalent to heterosexual behavior in all aspects, and that those who believe otherwise are subject to unnecessary litigation.
To the editors of area publications, including The Advocate and the Baton Rouge Business Report, who assert that intolerance may avert Baton Rouge’s path to the progress experienced by Austin, Texas, and Orlando, Florida, I encourage them to read the ordinance. Far from being a means to promote economic development, the ordinance does not encourage progress, but instead restricts economic freedom by punishing those with deeply held religious beliefs.
Finally, I do not believe that Dale Brown, the Albemarle Corporation, Lamar Advertising, BRAC, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation or the “ministers” who spoke in favor of this ordinance speak for anybody other than themselves. Further, they should separate themselves from co-author Councilman John Delgado’s offensive statement alleging that opponents of the ordinance are attempting to implement the Christian equivalent to Sharia Law. Intolerance in the pursuit of tolerance is simple hypocrisy. To the activists who insist on introducing sexual politics into East Baton Rouge life, we kindly admonish the Council to say, “No, thank you.”
The Rev. Gene Mills
president, Louisiana Family Forum