Faith and fairness at odds in nondiscrimination policy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 4:13am

Metro Council moved closer to adding two new protected classes to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance on Tuesday.

The panel approved a bill — in a 23-16 vote — on second reading, which would make discrimination against workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity unlawful.

Debate on the Council floor became heated as both sides squared off.

At-large Councilwoman Megan Barry, the bill’s primary sponsor, said the legislation was a step toward defining and outlawing discrimination.

“The proposed ordinance… simply advances the principal that it is unacceptable to use people’s personal identities as a basis for a decision about whether to hire, promote or fire them,” Barry said.

But the bill received vocal opposition from socially conservative Council members, including District 30 Councilman Jim Hodge, who quoted his Christian faith as a reason to vote against the ordinance.

“As a Christian, I cannot endorse a lifestyle that is condemned in both the Old Testament and New,” Hodge said.

Conservative District 20 Councilman Buddy Baker, whose gay son died of AIDS in 1995, said he was glad to see the ordinance advance.

“I’m real happy,” Baker said. “People really don’t know until they go through it. It was something when I was growing up that I couldn’t really accept. But when you have a son that was gay and what he went through, blood is thicker than water. And I’m just glad it went the way it did.”

The bill still requires a final vote, at which time it will need 21 votes to pass.

District 15 Councilman Phil Claiborne and District 32 Councilman Sam Coleman filed an alternative to Barry’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which states Metro will not discriminate against workers or those seeking employment for any non-merit factors. Claiborne pleaded with Barry to defer her bill to track with their proposed ordinance.

But At-large Councilman Ronnie Steine pointed out the two bills were not mutually exclusive and shouldn’t be viewed as competing legislation. Ultimately, a motion to defer Barry’s bill was tabled and the bill passed when it was voted upon.

How they voted
In favor: Greg Adkins, Buddy Baker, Megan Barry, Erik Cole, Emily Evans, Tim Garrett, Erica Gilmore, Frank Harrison, Jason Holleman, Walter Hunt, Mike Jameson, Darren Jernigan, Kristine LaLonde, Edith Langster, Lonnell Matthews Jr., Jerry Maynard, Sean McGuire, Bo Mitchell, Sandra Moore, Anna Page, Ronnie Steine, Carter Todd and Vivian Wilhoite

Opposed: Carl Burch, Phil Claiborne, Michael Craddock, Sam Coleman,Eric Crafton, Duane Dominy, Robert Duvall, Jim Forkum, Randy Foster, Jim Gotto, Jim Hodge, Pam Murray, Rip Ryman, Bruce Stanley, Parker Toler and Charlie Tygard


16 Comments on this post:

By: house_of_pain on 8/19/09 at 5:44

Jim Hodge needs to remember that he is there to do a job, and it does not involve his "faith". If he wants to preach, he can enter the clergy.

By: OPENmindedONE on 8/19/09 at 6:40

Kudos to the 23 Metro Council members who stood up for what is right last night.

Shame on Jim Hodge. Let's just say, even for a moment, that it is right to discriminate against those who are "unhealthy" and "require more mental health assistance," let's also assume that this actually applies to the LGBT community. Is it the right thing to do to send them over the edge by dis-allowing protections against not being hired or promoted or even being fired because of this?

Where is the love of Christ?

Love thy neighbor as thy self, Hodge. And judge not, sir.

By: global_citizen on 8/19/09 at 7:41

Jim Hodge is exactly the reason this country adheres to the principle of separation of church and state. It should be self-evident that no one should be discriminated against on such arbitrary grounds.

But Jim Hodge thinks his personal religious beliefs should dictate the legal and political rights of others.

By: idgaf on 8/19/09 at 8:55

Sexuality should not be a proteced class. In fact people should not know about your sexuality and if you want to cross dress that should not be done on the job.

This is yet another pandoras box that they want to open up.

If you hire James , Jane shouldn't show up for the first day on the job.

Flame away libs.

By: pam harrison on 8/19/09 at 9:01

Anytime one's faith interferes with one's ability to represent all of the people one is elected to represent one should resign one's position and think seriously of ever running for office again. Has no one heard of separation of church and state?

By: idgaf on 8/19/09 at 9:12

By: pam harrison on 8/19/09 at 10:01
Has no one heard of separation of church and state?

Religiuous beliefs are protected right under the Constitution should not be pushed aside for what is considered perversion by all major religions.

This country was founded on Judeao Christian beliefs endowed by our "Creator" with unallible rights.

Should you bleeding hearts not be campaigning against Iran and other Islamic countrys that behead homosexuals?

By: pam harrison on 8/19/09 at 9:53

Perhaps one should study the meaning of the section which states that "man should not lay with man." This is meant to protect one person from a person of power who had sexual intercourse with another of the same gender against the will of the one with less power. Young men, who were slaves, were kept for the purpose of sexual intercourse by the owner. I don't suppose that those who read the bible literally have taken the time to study the history and culture of the time it was written and use the book only to force their uneducated beliefs on others. It is only the fundamentalist of any religion who choose to read the Bible as a way to disenfranchise the others.

Perhaps, if one checked on the history of our own country one would realize that our founding fathers were not Jews or Christians but Deist, i.e., someone who believes in God but has no specific religious affiliation.

By: Schuss on 8/19/09 at 10:10

Hey id,

Maybe Islam ain't so bad: Islam doesn't believe in separation of church and state or homosexuality and other perversions. However, they do believe in corporal and capital punishment, which keeps the crime rate relatively low!

By: idgaf on 8/19/09 at 10:25

Yes and they know how to deal with liberals too. :)

By: pam harrison on 8/19/09 at 10:27

So sad that the only way you can deal with an intelligent disagreement is to name-call rather than admit that others do have legitimate concerns for the disenfranchised.

By: Schuss on 8/19/09 at 11:09

"Disenfranchised" - Now there's a liberal's word!

Let's put it to good use:
If one wants to carry a gun in Legislative Plaza, one is disenfranchised.
If one wants to pray in school, one is disenfranchised.
If one wants to protect one's children from homosexual perversions, one is disenfranchised.
If one wants to, really, speak one's mind about homosexuals, one (or more) is disenfranchised.

By: Schuss on 8/19/09 at 11:25

Saved as PDF for voting reference.

By: Kosh III on 8/19/09 at 2:12

Thank you Pam


One is "disenfranchised" when one can not marry the person they love.

Individuals may privately pray in school. Schools may not pray or show preference to any religion.

You may say any smart or stupid thing you wish. For instance, I can say: "Love one another."

By: airvols on 8/19/09 at 2:16

idgaf, has finally admitted true colors. I'm a conserative that makes me right in all things known to man. I am the begining and the end, so say I. Thank God our founding fathers didn't see it your way, but then again they were all a bunch of liberals. LOL

By: Schuss on 8/19/09 at 3:22

Hey Kosh, Apparently, with your logic, I'm disenfranchised because I can't marry Catherine Zeta Jones...

By: joeshedlock on 8/19/09 at 6:13

The vote listing in the article failed to mention that one Councilmember abstained, Karen Bennett.