"There's nothing wrong with discrimination," said Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker, while addressing the county commission committee charged with a vote on an ordinance that would prevent discrimination toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender workers in Shelby County government. Though audible gasps from the audience followed Bunker's statement, five other commissioners apparently agreed, as they voted down the ordinance in committee. The ordinance will still go to the full commission for a vote on Monday.
The original ordinance, proposed by commissioner Steve Mulroy, would protect Shelby County employees, workers with county contractors, and employees of large private businesses in unincorporated Shelby County.
Commissioners Deidre Malone and J.W. Gibson proposed an amendment to the ordinance removing protections for all but Shelby County government employees.
"We need to get our own house in order before we can start regulating other people," said Malone.
Gibson also had concerns about the cost of enforcing the ordinance, if passed.
"This will require time and more people," Gibson said.
But Mulroy disagreed, stating that no additional investigators would be needed in the county's human resources office.
"It's not like we're going to have investigators roving the hallways looking for discrimination problems," Mulroy said. "The [Equal Opportunity Employment] Commission investigates based on complaints, just like they already do with other issues of discrimination."
Religious convictions guided the votes of several commissioners, including Mike Carpenter and Bunker. Bunker blamed the ordinance on a "homosexual agenda" and compared protections for gays to "the seven deadly sins."
"Once [homosexuals] get their foot in the door, they push their way through society until [homosexuality] becomes the norm," said Bunker.
Supporters and opposition for the ordinance filled the committee meeting room. Brad Watkins with the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center pleaded with commission members to consider God’s love when using Christian faith to justify their opinion on the ordinance.
"Our faith is one of inclusion and love. We can't say that we love someone and then sit back and discriminate against them," said Watkins.
----- This is scary! If we can’t get this passed, my partner and I are leaving Memphis, Tennessse and the Confederate South! Jim M. ----------- OK, Here are my responses to the anti-gay bigots, or, HOW TO TALK TO HOMOPHOBIC BIGOTS:
Quit trying to quote the Bible! First, you are picking out verses to suit your political agenda. If you really want to follow the Levitical Code, then just go all the way and say your support putting people to death for homosexuality, adultery, disobeying parents, and eating the wrong foods! And if you want to follow the New Testament literally, you need to make your women shut up and be quiet. After all, Paul says, God made Adam first gave him dominion over the earth--and women! Second, what the Bible says is irrelevant to CIVIL rights and laws in the United States. Thanks to Thomas Jefferson and other enlightened founders of this country, we have a SECULAR constitution! If you want to live in a country where gay people are put to death, move to Iran or Saudi Arabia!
Evidently some black preachers didn't get the message of the Civil Rights movement. They think Civil Rights are only for them! Dr. Martin Luther King said Injustice anywhere is an injustice to everyone. He didn't limit the struggle for social justice and equality to just one race. If it is a disgrace to the civil rights movement and black people to compare gay rights with other civil rights, you better correct Civil Rights leaders like Rep. John Lewis and Rev. Joseph Lowery, and rebuke the words of Coretta Scott King who said:
"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the civil rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother-and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."
Quit trying to impose your religious beliefs on me! You have the freedom to CHOOSE your narrow-minded archaic religious dogmas, I have the freedom to CHOOSE to be a gay, atheist!
And if you don't think gays and lesbians need protection from discrimination, maybe we should rescind all civil rights laws, including those covering race and religion! I don't see any evidence that racist Southern Baptists and homophobic black preachers are being discriminated against! Why should you be getting "special rights" because of your race or religion?
Let's make a deal--you respect my CIVIL rights (to be a gay atheist) and I will respect your right to be a religious fanatic or a bigot. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights protects all of our rights! Don't try to take away MY rights!