Despite the fearmongering of opponents, Carrollton’s City Council passed an ordinance covering LGBT employees
On Tuesday evening, Feb. 5, the Carrollton City Council voted, 5-2, in favor of an ordinance that would add a number of protections to city policies and statutes to protect employees or contractors. Some of those opposed to the ordinance claimed the protections were really something else in disguise; the most far-fetched and ridiculous claim was that this was a “Ban the Bible” ordinance.
But in truth, the ordinance wasn’t “disguised” as anything. It’s intent was right out there in the open.
Read it: “No person shall be favored or discriminated against with respect to any city appointment, employment contract or privilege on account of age, race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy or political beliefs.”
Some of those opposing this ordinance want to wield fear as a weapon, as they have done for decades. From the 1950s when they riled up fear of sharing drinking fountains, to using fear to argue against equality for women or gay teachers.
Most recently, they claimed that the sanctity of marriage was in jeopardy if I were permitted to marry my wife, Katie. (And by the way, as of June 26, 2015, there is no distinction between “traditional” and same-sex marriage. It’s all just called marriage.) I have news for those folks: If your marriage was on a solid foundation before Katie and I were married, chances are it still is. But if your marriage was in trouble before, it had nothing to do with the fact that Katie and I now share the same rights and protections as any other married couple.
Equal protection is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. And equality is not pie; there is enough of it to go around.
Me being able to see the doctor doesn’t mean you can’t. Me enjoying employment protections doesn’t take anything away from your employment. If I am able to feel safe in the city of Carrollton, it doesn’t make you unsafe.
That’s the magic of equality.
Spreading lies and fear is irresponsible. What’s even worse is using the Bible to hurt people, to deny them equal rights. Why not use it to make them feel welcome, instead?
We heard this same language and saw these same fear-mongering tactics nearly three years ago when the city of Mesquite approved a similar ordinance. In spite of the worries, Mesquite has not fallen off of the edge of the earth, and no one’s religious rights have been trampled.
The ridiculous notion that Carrollton’s new ordinance interferes with anyone’s biblical beliefs is nonsense. Where in the Bible does it say I should be denied employment because I’m transgender? Nowhere. The Bible does, however, say “Love your neighbor,” does it not?
For those genuinely afraid of losing what they consider a precious civil right, please know that I understand that fear. The reality of inequality slaps me in the face every day of my life.
I can be fired for who I am. I can be denied housing, and doctors can refuse me treatment. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Feb. 4 to overturn Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the non-discrimination provision that protects me, so that health care professionals can refuse me treatment if their religion tells them being transgender is wrong.
Be honest: You would be outraged as well if YOU were faced with that reality.
Carrollton is taking nothing from anyone. Seriously, read the ordinance. They only seek, as many cities around Texas have done, to level the playing field a little, because treating your neighbors with kindness and respect is a Texas value.
The community was watching, and so were businesses that may want to relocate to Carrollton now. In the face of protests from religious zealots and fearmongers pedaling their hateful, shameful scare tactics, the city of Carrollton made the right decision and they are to be congratulated and commended.
To Councilman Mike Hennefer who voted against the ordinance because he felt this ordinance wasn’t needed since “Carrollton doesn’t discriminate,” I say: Good! Then having these protections won’t hurt a thing and will send a clear message to all that Carrollton walks the walk on equality with regard to city employees and contractors.”
Councilman Glen Blanscet, who also voted against adding equality protections, seemed most concerned about the gender identity provisions and sexual orientation protections. Enough so, that pregnant women would also lose protection were the ordinance defeated.
Mr. Blanscet is the former executive pastor at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, so it’s little surprise that he would claim to be worried about “unintended consequences.”
To Mr. Blanscet, I say: Let me calm your fears. You need look no further than Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Plano, Farmers Branch, Mesquite and Irving — just to name a few — to realize that even though all these cities have added protections like the ones just approved in Carrollton, none have been plagued by locusts or have fallen into the sea.
To the five council members who withstood the venom hurled in their directions by uneducated, willfully-ignorant merchants of hate, I’m sorry you had to endure that, and I’m grateful you stood strong and did the right thing.
And yes, history will show you have done the right thing. I’m grateful for your courage, and I encourage you to expand these protections to all who live and work in Carrollton.
My name is Leslie McMurray, and I’m your neighbor.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.