A watered-down version of Commissioner Steve Mulroy's proposed antidiscrimination ordinance was passed by the County Commission on Monday but only after several days of public histrionics. Commissioner Wyatt Bunker and six local ministers held a demonstration downtown and trotted out the usual fear-mongering. They said if the law passed, gays couldn't be fired for cross-dressing or using the opposite gender's restrooms. They said that homosexuality is a sin and that gays are trying to force their "agenda" on God-fearing Christians. And they reiterated the threadbare argument that being gay is a choice, not an inherent trait, such as black skin or blue eyes.
These folks are on the wrong side of history — and of science and common decency. Even if you grant them the absurd notion that being gay is a choice, their argument against job protection still falls flat. You "choose" to be Presbyterian or Muslim or a Republican, and those choices are protected by law. So why shouldn't your "choice" to be gay be protected? It's legal to be gay, after all.
What's really going on, of course, is the insertion of fundamentalist religion into government affairs. These folks will tell you, ad nauseum, that they "love the sinner but hate the sin." But "sin" is a religious concept which has no place in secular legislation. And there's a very good reason for that: One man's sin is another man's joy. You might think it's a sin to dance. I don't. Why should your sin be my law? If you want a religious state, move to a country where sin and law are interchangeable. Saudi Arabia comes to mind.
Protecting someone from being fired because they are gay is a simple extension of workers' rights. Your interpretation of the Bible is immaterial.
Here's what really puzzles me: Is it possible that Bunker and these ministers don't know any gay people? I can't imagine that's the case, but equally difficult to imagine is how, if they knew real, actual gay people, they would see this proposed law as a threat. Most of the people I know work with, socialize with, are related to, and interact with gay people on a daily basis. Protecting them from being fired for their orientation seems inherently sensible.
Ironically, the actions of Bunker and his fundamentalist supporters make it obvious why such a law is necessary in the first place.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. — William Shakespeare
Is there such a thing as "bad activism"? I'm asking because I'm seeing a lot of criticism of the folks who are protesting the Memphis Zoo's encroachment onto the Greensward at Overton Park.
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."