Tag Archives: gay rights

Watching sausage being made–a rant

20 Jun

I went to a professional organization meeting a week or so ago. The speaker was an employment law attorney who, as it so happens, had recently provided some expert testimony at one of the seemingly endless City Council meetings held to debate the merits of banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The attorney used a familiar analogy–watching elected officials in action is like watching sausage being made.

I watched sausage being made yesterday. The City Council’s Recreation, Community Development, Public Health and Safety Committee held a public hearing. It is good the public can (and does) come out to express their opinions, but the committee let the clock run out without voting. This makes it unlikely the bill will be voted on during next Tuesday’s council meeting, which means it all sort of starts over again when the committee chairs change next month.

One of the most vocal opponents of the bill  is Councilwoman At Large, Kimberly Daniels. I know it is unseemly to resort to name calling in a political debate, but those who disagree with Ms. Daniels sometimes call her “a crack whore.”

That would be ruder than it is, except Ms. Daniels admits that she, indeed, used to be a crack whore. But she found God and became a minister and now she doesn’t use drugs. As for the other word, well, it was her decision to become a politician, so if the shoe fits…

Ms. Daniels’ life story is one of redemption. I love stories of redemption. What I don’t love is when someone like Ms. Daniels insists that people like me are irredeemable. She, and many others, send this message when they insist that any law that protects the rights of LGBT people, encroaches on the First Amendment rights of “people of faith.”

The message is, “I am a person of faith. You can’t be a person of faith, because you’re gay.” I have received that message from a relative recently. I admit my perspective is skewed, but the rest of the message I hear in this is, “I am superior to you.”

There is no meeting of the minds, no middle ground, no hope for compromise or amity, when you believe the other side is not only wrong, but beneath you.

One of the speakers yesterday blathered on with statistics she had gotten from somewhere. Her bottom line was–there are tens of thousands of people in Jacksonville who go to church but only an infinitesimal number of gay people, so it would be wrong to stomp all over the rights of the church goers in favor of the gays.

Because if gays are granted rights, they will block all the roads to the churches?
Just for the record—gay people are people of faith too. Gay people go to church too. There are plenty of heterosexual people of faith who do not believe that discrimination against gay people is sanctioned by God.

Every time someone frames this discussion as a fight between “people of faith” and the LGBT communuity, he or she is saying, “God is on our side and he is not on your side.”

What teaching of Christ are they using as a template for this rhetoric and behavior?

While I am ranting, let me just put this out there–stop calling my life a “lifestyle.”

Anyone who knows me, knows that my life is many things, but it is definitely not “stylish”.

Lifestyle implies a fad, something ephemeral and less than valuable. It is a put down. They might as well say, “your little gay life” when they say “your gay lifestyle.” You are less than. My life is a real life. Your life is just a lifestyle–life-lite.

I didn’t have to watch sausage being made to know that, for the most part, I am better off not eating sausage in the first place. I cannot, however, work around the political machinations of the city in which I live. I can choose not to watch the process, but I cannot escape the results of that process.

I am, after all, a tax payer and a citizen.  I matter.

Happy Wednesday

Jacksonville considers moving into the 21st century

23 May

Last night the Jacksonville City Council held a public  hearing to determine whether or not the City should amend the local Equal Opportunity Ordinance to include protections for gays, lesbians and transgendered citizens of our community.

Supporters of the amendment were the overwhelming majority at the hearing, which is heartening to know. The Chamber of Commerce, the business community, and former Republican Mayor, John Delaney are among those who have advocated for the bill.

Jacksonville is the largest city in the state of Florida in both land area and population, and is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. Meanwhile Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville and Daytona Beach have managed to pass similar protections. Those in favor of the ordinance argue it is time for Jacksonville to get with the program, wipe the sleep out of her eyes and recognize she is living in the 21st century.  Showing we are an inclusive city is ultimately good for business.

Almost all opposition is based on religious grounds, but there are also a significant number of supporters from the Jacksonville religious community.

First Baptist Church–a downtown mega-church which has long wielded an inordinate amount of  political clout, is against the ordinance.

The religious argument goes that legal protections for gays and lesbians infringes on the rights of many Christians. Apparently they are worried that they will be forced to let gay people go to their churches, or they will be forced to hire gay people against their will.

There are already gay people going to your churches. Take my word for it. More to the point, you already have gay people working in your churches. Don’t be naive.

Laws which outlaw discrimination do not force anyone to hire someone who is unsuitable for the job. Frankly, all hiring requires a certain level of discrimination (in the best sense of the word) in that you have to be discriminating to select the very best candidate for the position. If you base your hiring decision on the things that matter–qualifications, previous experience, etc., you have a good chance of hiring someone who is going to benefit your organization. If you do that, it is a win win for everyone.

If you already have an employee who is doing a good job, do you really want the right to fire him or her just because he or she is gay?

The City Council will take this up again in June. I am very heartened by the large turnout and strong support demonstrated by citizens of our community.

Of course, on the local news sites, it is time for the trolls to come out.

They are leaving comments like “the next thing is a bill proposing the protection of the rights of those whom practice pedophilia and bestiality.”

Like laws protecting children and animals are automatically going to be thrown out the window because the community opposes discrimination against other people who aren’t breaking any laws. Think before you type, people!

One commenter said it was all rigged and that none of the people who spoke at the meeting who “claimed discrimination” could provide any actual examples. Then he says, “No evidence or example to back it up because it was a pack of lies. The homosexual mafia is using the same tactics as Chairman Mao, Hitler or the Taliban to push their agenda through. It is acceptable for them to lie and use distortion as long as it furthers their cause. But isn’t that to be expected from a group with no moral foundation or compass?”

It is interesting that this person does not believe discrimination against gays and lesbians ever happens, then complains that passage of this amendment will cause Jacksonville to become a “cesspool” and “a Sodom and Gomorrah.” He ends his diatribe by saying if the ordinance passes, he won’t abide by it. He will pack up and move his business elsewhere and that will cost the community “jobs and growth.”

He seems to be arguing that discrimination against gay people is a myth while, at the same time, arguing the he will (and we assume already has) discriminate against gay people all he wants or move somewhere where it is legal to be a bigot. Not Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville or Daytona Beach, of course, but somewhere else.

Why do I get the feeling this person doesn’t really provide all that many jobs in our area? Because the big companies around here–the ones who really bring the jobs and growth to the city, don’t discriminate against people because of things that are irrelevant to the job. They’re too busy trying to hire people who will do a good job, no matter what their sexual orientation, race, creed, or color.

That’s just good business.

Happy Wednesday

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