The Religious Right has gone into overdrive to fight a San Antonio ordinance that added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the city’s non-discrimination policy [PDF], which already included bans on discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex…veteran status, age or disability.” But despite their hyperventilating, the measure passed anyway.
The ordinance’s opponents were certainly not helped by their strategy of using far-fetched, over-the-top arguments to mischaracterize the ordinance…because that it was just too easy to point out where went wrong.
Take, for instance, pastor Charles Flowers, a vocal opponent of the ordinance, who appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show on September 6 to charge that councilmembers who backed the measure “don’t deserve to serve any longer” because they “assaulted” the rights of Christians.
His main complaint about the ordinance was that homosexuality is a “sexual lifestyle choice” and not an immutable characteristic…like a person’s religious beliefs.
“There is a strong response coming from this community to rid our city council of people whose judgment -- this is the issue, they could not judge the difference between the sacred suffering of someone involved in the Civil Rights Movement to gain basic human rights based on immutabilities like race, sex, where you were born and your creeds, that don’t change,” Flowers charged. “They couldn’t tell the difference between that and some group that has a sexual propensity or making as sexual lifestyle choice and now seeking protection in order to persecute and punish anybody whose ideology is different from their own.”
That’s right; the arguments from ordinance’s opponents have come down to the claim that a person’s religious beliefs are unchangeable.
Flowers later contended that “speaking out against the homosexual or lesbian agenda could garner you a fine of $500 per day.”
“That’s $15,000 a month that you could be fined in the seventh largest city in America for expressing a difference between the ideology proposed by a city, where homosexuality and lesbianism is concerned, and your personal belief and personal faith.”
“This is like a police state,” Flowers said, adding that employers who don’t believe in gay rights won’t be able to win city contracts.
His claim that people will be fined for speaking out on homosexuality was so blatantly false that Mefferd had to ask him if pastors could be fined. Flowers alleged that the ordinance would only affect businessmen who seek to fire their openly gay staff members or refuse to serve transgender customers.
Now there is a huge difference between a government fining a person for speaking out against homosexuality or for harboring anti-gay views and prohibiting businesses from discriminating against LGBT employees and customers in public accommodation.
Does he really not see the difference or is he just hoping that listeners will fall for the blatant falsehood?
Furthermore, “religious organizations” are clearly explicitly exempted from the ordinance’s provision on public accommodation, employment and housing, so the Christian businesses Flowers mentioned wouldn’t be impacted.