Friday, July 26, 2013

Religious right spreading false story about San Antonio ordinance

The following item from a Family Research Council email caught my eye:

A controversial proposal in San Antonio may be the first step to banning Christians from public office! In a move that took locals completely by surprise, the city council is proposing a sweeping ordinance that would disqualify anyone who has ever "demonstrated a bias" from serving on local boards or commissions. The measure, which some have couched as an "updated non-discrimination" policy, suggests that "No person shall be appointed to a position if the city council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or disability."

Several Texas pastors are outraged by the measure, which seems to prohibit any religious or even nonbelieving conservatives from serving the city simply for holding a natural view of marriage and sexuality. At no point does the proposal define what a "bias" is, instead leaving it open to the subjective interpretation of the council. On top of barring those people from public service, the ordinance also outlaws city contracts with those deemed "intolerant" to the classes listed.

And not to be outdone by its counterpart, the American Family Association is also sounding the alarm by claiming that the ordinance would bar Christians from serving public office:

According to Pastor Charles Flowers of Faith Outreach International, the city leaders want to add two categories to the policy: sexual orientation and gender identity. “The ordinance also says that if you have at any point demonstrated a bias – without defining what a bias is or who will determine whether or not one has been exercised – that you cannot get a city contract,” he tells OneNewsNow. “Neither can any of your subcontractors [who have demonstrated a bias] sign on to the contract.” Moreover, according to a draft of the revised policy, no one who has spoken out against homosexuality or the transgender lifestyle can run for city council or be appointed to a board. 

Of course this claim is a lie and it sounds like a desperate one if you ask me. According to Equality Matters:

 . . .  the San Antonio proposal simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to existing civil rights protections. As Councilman Diego Bernal, the proposal's sponsor, told the San Antonio Express-News, the sole aim of the proposed ordinance is to ensure that city officials don't "reserve the legal right to" discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Only the obsessively conspiracy-minded would see in the ordinance a sinister plot against Christians. Alas, "obsessively conspiracy-minded" is a fair description of much of the right-wing media.

Paralleling the misguided right-wing attacks on ENDA, several pastors have claimed that the proposal poses a threat to religious liberty. They - and their right-wing media allies - have seized on the language pertaining to those who have "demonstrated a bias" against any of the protected groups, claiming that merely holding conservative religious views on homosexuality could lead to charges of bias and disqualification from city office. As reported in the WND (World Net Daily) article, local pastors are concerned that the ordinance would "prohibit those that speak their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality from serving on city boards."

That horror story isn't supported by the evidence. San Antonio's current ordinance hasn't been used to police city officials' personal views on race, gender, or religion. That's because the ordinance is meant to prohibit clear cases of professional discrimination and bias - not bad personal thoughts.

So, to reiterate, there is no potential ordinance in San Antonio which will bar Christians from public office and any organization pushing this claim is merely exploiting the ignorance and fear of its supporters.

In other words, plan on hearing this lie from members of the religious right consistently over the next few days.


Anonymous said...

Not to mention the assumption that being Christian and being supportive of LGBT rights is incompatible. I know to these groups it is, but then, they don't care about trampling on the religious liberties of beliefs systems with which they disagree.

Jason Dabrowski said...

"Several Texas pastors are outraged by the measure, which seems to prohibit any religious or even nonbelieving conservatives from serving the city simply for holding a natural view of marriage and sexuality."

um, how's THAT work? Marriage doesn't occur in nature. It is a completely human construct.
Secondly, I doubt those pastors have a natural view of sexuality. Sexuality, as it occurs in nature, is not monogamous, not exclusively heterosexual, and not soley for procreation.

They mean "traditional" or "Evangelical" but they sure do NOT mean "natural".