Two opposing sides on an LGBTQ civil rights issue before the Metro Council were able to agree on one thing Wednesday: They were glad the proposed resolution was pulled from the agenda.
The proposal had been advanced by Metro Council members Matt Watson and Barbara Freiberg and then later removed from the agenda. But the public weighed in, nonetheless.
Before the meeting, Watson said the resolution was deleted from the agenda because it didn't go far enough for those on the left and wasn't exact enough in its language to protect concerns from the right.
Watson previously said the point of the resolution was to achieve "reasonable patience in an effort to avoid further division in our community as we wait for the highest court in the land to determine the path forward for the entire nation."
The proposed resolution would have positioned the Metro Council to revisit the topic after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on three discrimination cases involving LGBTQ rights.
Those on the left were some of the loudest voices Wednesday night, calling for an ordinance with the force of law rather than a resolution, which they say would do nothing to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in the parish.
Metro Council members heard from more than a dozen gay and/or transgender advocates who spoke about discrimination they've faced in housing and employment.
"I'm glad you're pulling this because it’s terrible and does nothing," Jennifer Harding, president of the Progressive Social Network, told council members during a public hearing on the resolution. "We were blindsided when we saw this resolution."
PSN, a local nonprofit advocacy group, for the past year has been trying to drum up support for a "fairness ordinance" to outlaw discrimination against anyone based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also create a commission to review, investigate and mediate claims of discrimination in the parish.
"Baton Rouge wants this to happen," Harding said.
The proposed resolution was also criticized Wednesday by a few conservatives who said legislative action addressing discrimination against LGBTQ people could end up encroaching on their religious freedom.
"We all have to realize we can’t discriminate against anyone … and that includes people of faith," said Karen Meer, one of the three people who spoke Wednesday against the resolution.
Although none of the three expressed specific instances of such potential discrimination, their arguments aligned with being penalized for possibly making business decisions related to their faith.