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Ed Young

Today really is the day for the NDO vote

And as we finally head for a vote, the hysteria and fearmongering have reached a fever pitch.

RedEquality

In just five words, Mayor Annise Parker handed her increasingly vocal opponents exactly what they wanted in the battle against her proposed equal rights ordinance: “The debate is about me.”

That comment, part of a longer utterance at Houston City Council’s last meeting, at which the body delayed a decision on the ordinance to this Wednesday, was just what political and religious conservatives have accused Parker – the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city – of doing for weeks: Pushing the ordinance to further her “gay agenda,” or to reward gay advocates for their political support.

In laying out the proposed ordinance last month, Parker acknowledged the debate would focus on gay and transgender issues because those groups are not protected under existing laws, but she stressed the proposal was comprehensive. It would ban discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.

Parker’s recent comments undercut that comprehensive message, however, as she sought to remind council members the issue is “intensely personal.”

“It’s not academic. It is my life that is being discussed,” said Parker, who faced death threats and had her tires slashed as a gay activist in the 1980s. “And while we can say around this council chamber that it applies to the range of protected groups – and it does and it is right and appropriate that the city of Houston finally acknowledges a local ordinance that respects African-Americans and Hispanics and those of different religions – the debate is about me. The debate is about two gay men at this table.”

Parker added to her comments after the meeting, saying she understands how “incredibly painful” it is for gay residents to hear opponents say, “I don’t hate gay people, I don’t hate transgender people, I just ought to have the right not to let them come into my business.”

[…]

Councilman Michael Kubosh – elected with a coalition of conservative and black voters last fall – drew scattered yells of support from the otherwise civil audience in rebutting Parker’s comments minutes later.

“I know you say it’s about you, but, mayor, this is really about all of us,” Kubosh said. “It’s not really about you; it’s about everybody here.”

Every successful politician in America has had personal reasons for running for office, and personal motivation for the causes they sought to advance through legislation. Most of them are very clear about this, as it’s a big part of the answer to the question of why they are running for that office. The personal connection they have to the cause they’re advancing – the hurt they’ve felt, or the help they’ve received – is a key component of who they are as a candidate and later (they hope) as an officeholder. It’s how they hope to win the support of the people they think should be voting for them. I’ve been there. I know how you feel. I can help. Would Michael Kubosh have established residency in the city of Houston to run for City Council if he had not been personally affected by red light cameras? I rather doubt it. Of course he will say that it wasn’t just about him but about all of the people that were affected by red light cameras and who felt they lacked a voice in the process. He wouldn’t have gotten himself into a position to be elected if it weren’t for that, and if he couldn’t make a connection to the people who felt the same way he did. How is that any different from Mayor Parker?

And I have to laugh at the “accusations” that Mayor Parker is pursuing the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance as some kind of sinister payback for her “core” (read: gay gay gay gay gay) supporters. Because of course only the gayest of her gay supporters support the HERO as something that is just and fair and right, obviously. And because of course no politician in America has ever been so crass as to pursue policies that their most ardent supporters wanted. I laugh because I can envision how the Dave Wilsons and Steve Riggles and apparently Michael Kuboshes imagine this must have played out in the backroom scented-candle-filled Secret Gay Power Broker Centers around Houston: “Our plan is foolproof! We will win multiple elections, then attempt to pass an ordinance via the public legislative process involving many opportunities for feedback and a majority vote of the democratically-elected City Council! That’ll show the bastards! Bwa ha ha ha ha!” I can sure see why that would be front page news.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s grant Dave Wilson and Steve Riggle and Ed Young and Michael Kubosh and Max Miller their fondest wish and stipulate that Mayor Parker is ramming this ordinance down their throats to appease her most ardent supporters The Gays, because as noted no politician in the history of America has ever done something like this before. Let’s remind ourselves what it is that she – and, you know, a majority of the members of City Council – are pushing: An ordinance that forbids the official discrimination against people because of who they are. Under this ordinance, you can’t be fired, or denied service at a bar or restaurant or retail establishment, or evicted, or any other thing that Wilson et al take for granted for themselves because you’re gay, or black, or Jewish, or a woman, or disabled, or whatever. It’s an ordinance that guarantees equal treatment for all people, with a mechanism to enforce it. I’m always…”amused” isn’t quite the right word, but it will have to do…when I hear a Dave Wilson or one of his intolerant brethren screech about LGBT folks demanding “special rights”, as if the right to hold a job or buy a house or not be arbitrarily tossed out of a restaurant is “special” in any meaningful sense. If you look up the word “projection” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of one of these clowns begging to be allowed to keep his special right to discriminate against people he doesn’t like while complaining that their demand to be treated as equals constitutes the real special treatment. It would be kind of funny if it weren’t so very, very pathetic.

And finally, to bring it back to those five little words Mayor Parker said, I have to agree with Campos: With all due respect to the Mayor, this debate really is about all of us. I want to live in a city that values all of its residents. I want to live in a city that embraces its diversity and makes no group of people feel second class. I’m one of an increasing majority of people that sees the so-called “morality” of people like Dave Wilson for the toxic injustice that it is. I see where the country is going, and I want to get there now. There’s more people like me in this town than there are people like Dave Wilson. If we’re forced to prove it again at the ballot box this November, we’ll be ready.

[Council Member Ellen] Cohen said she expects, however, to see the mayor’s comments become fodder for a push to overturn the ordinance by referendum, an effort for which opponents say they already are gathering signatures. Houston voters twice have rejected protections or benefits for gays, in 1985 and in 2001.

“People who are opposed to the ordinance will use any and all methods they possibly can to destroy the credibility of anyone who’s trying to vote for it,” Cohen said, pointing to threats of recall elections targeting council members who vote in favor. “It saddens me. Intimidation is a terrible way to conduct a democracy.”

That’s presumably in addition to the recall effort, which who knows what will happen. In this case, we know from the red light camera experience that there’s a 30 day window after the ordinance passes to gather the signatures for a vote to repeal. We’ll cross that bridge when and if we get to it, too. The SEIU and Mustafa Tameez have more.

A letter to Ed Young

Found on Facebook, from an alumnus of Second Baptist School to Pastor Ed Young, reprinted in full because you need to see it.

Ed Young

MY LETTER TO THE SCHOOL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION:

Thank you again for featuring me in the Eagle magazine recently. It was an honor to be included.

A friend of mine forwarded the below email from Dr. Young. My understanding is that the letter was sent to the membership of the church. While the letter’s message does not surprise me, it deeply disappoints me.

I loved my time at Second Baptist School. I was a part of your community from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. I was class president, yearbook editor, drama club president, and actively gave my time and talents to my school. I am still in touch with many of my fellow alumni and several wonderful teachers. While I have numerous great memories of SBS, Dr. Young’s letter is a shining example of why I have been unable to support the school monetarily. There are many positive values taught at SBS, but it seems in the 28 years since my graduation, there has been no progress in Dr. Young’s hurtful teachings about gay and lesbian people.

The equality ordinance under consideration by the Houston City Council is more reflective of the teachings of Christ than the misleading and politicized letter from Dr. Young to the church’s members. The ordinance is designed to protect Houstonians from discrimination that would affect their livelihood and ability to have a roof over their heads. I was fired from my first job out of college, simply because the conservative Christian president of the company found out that I was a gay man. For Second Baptist to take a strong stand in favor of this kind of discrimination seems profoundly out of line with the teachings of Jesus. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is not reflected in denying people employment.

To say Americans have a right to refuse service to people who are gay also feels highly out of line with the teachings of Christ. Does Dr. Young feel the same about American’s rights to refuse service to people of a different ethnicity? Would he write a letter encouraging policy that would allow business owners to refuse service to someone of a different faith? Of course not. This is specifically about the demonization of LGBT people.

To imply that this ordinance is designed to legalize the actions of sexual predators might be politically effective, however, it’s not true. Predatory behavior and sexual assault will still be quite illegal in Houston. I have to assume Dr. Young is smart enough to know that and was willing to dial up the rhetoric to accomplish his goal.

Most of all, I am concerned for the young gay and lesbian people who are in the care of Second Baptist, both the school and the church. This aggressive political agenda from Dr. Young only serves to teach them that they are less than worthy in the eyes of their community, and it encourages their families to alienate their own children, based on misinformation and fear. The suicide rate of gay youth, often from religious families, is still far too high for caring Christians to remain silent.

I do not write this letter out of spite; I genuinely care about the school where I spent 13 years of my life. I encourage Dr. Young, Second Baptist School and Second Baptist Church to be less concerned with “daring to be Daniel” and more concerned with immolating Christ. When the school reflects these values, I will be more than happy to become an avid donor.

Best Regards,
Kyle Young
Class of 1986

Bravo, Kyle Young. I can only wonder what Ed Young (I presume there’s no relation) would say to you if he had the guts to say to your face what he’s been saying to others.

Today is the day for the non-discrimination ordinance

Yesterday’s open Council session and today’s vote will provide one last chance for fearmongering before the NDO finally passes.

RedEquality

Among clergy trading pulpit for soap box is the Rev. Ed Young, senior pastor at Houston’s Second Baptist Church, who denounced the proposal for seeking to “elevate sexual preference to a constitutionally protected class.”

[…]

In Internet postings, Young urged opponents inside and outside the city to “dare to be a Daniel” in facing down the ordinance.

“Mayor Parker will continue to push the City Council to approve a ‘non-discrimination ordinance’ … more aptly described as a wide-reaching pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ordinance,” Young wrote. “It is a direct threat to the rights of all who live and work in our city.”

Young, whose congregation approaches 64,000 members, argued that the ordinance potentially would open women’s restrooms to male sexual predators dressed in women’s clothing and force businesses to serve clients whose sexual practices they oppose on religious grounds.

“Tolerance,” he wrote, “should not be defined as casting aside and acting against one’s own beliefs to accommodate someone else’s. Simply put, the homosexual community wants us to tolerate their behavior and beliefs, but does not want to give the rest of us that same courtesy. … Their rights should end where our morality and rights begin.”

Pastor Steve Riggle, of Grace Community Church, with about 18,000 members, expressed similar concerns, saying the proposed ordinance “is not just a political issue to us. As a congregation, we are outraged.”

I’m old enough to remember people like Ed Young and Steve Riggle making the same claims about the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 70s. There’s a word for this: it’s called “lying”. I don’t know why professional religious people like Ed Young and Steve Riggle think lying – “bearing false witness against thy neighbor”, if you want to go old school – to advance a political position might be acceptable. Perhaps as professional religious people they have access to a deluxe edition of the Bible that the rest of us don’t that spells out when one can lie with impunity. I would suggest to them that they would be far better off after the NDO passes to rejoice with those who rejoice and leave their anger and fear and lying behind. But I’m not a professional religious person, so what do I know?

Speaking of lying, you will I’m sure be shocked to learn that Dave Wilson is campaigning against the NDO, and in true Dave Wilson fashion he’s doing so by pretending to be African-American. Here’s the email he’s sending out. It claims to be from a “Reverend RJ Ballard” – you can see the header, with my email address edited out, here – but I know it’s from him because the email contains a disclaimer at the end, not visible on that webpage, that says:

Our mailing address is:
Houstonians For Family Values
5600 W 34th St.
Houston, TX 77092

That as we know is one of the warehouses that Dave Wilson claims to be his home. Be that as it may, Google searches for Reverend RJ Ballard and RJ Ballard Houston come up empty, unless you think this guy (the first result for the latter search) is the “reverend” in question. The photo of the “Reverend” in Wilson’s mailer is a stock photo, which you can find via Google image search for “black reverend”; it’s being used here. The photo of the family is surely also a stock photo, though I didn’t see it on a quick scan through Shutterstock. It too is easily found via Google image search, this time for “black family portrait”, which led me here. You’re such a cliche, Dave.

Anyway. The bathroom provision in the ordinance that Young and Riggle and their ilk have been lying about, will be dropped from the final version.

A paragraph specifying that no business open to the public could deny a transgender person entry to the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity had outraged conservatives. Church and Republican political leaders have used the clause to claim the ordinance “provides an opportunity for sexual predators to have access to our families.”

Members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community were equally outraged, however, by a clause that would give businesses an out if the defendant had a “good faith belief” that the person’s claim of being transgender was disingenuous.

The proposed amendment would remove that paragraph of the expansive ordinance. Transgender people barred access to a restroom still would be able to file a discrimination complaint to the city’s Office of Inspector General under the process outlined for all protected characteristics, such as race and veteran status.

“The base ordinance is still the same,” Parker said. “It says you can’t discriminate.”

A pretty simple thing, don’t you think? I’m going to give the last word to Dallas Jones, a political consultant who sent out the following to his email list yesterday:

It’s unfortunate that this conversation has been masked behind issues like religion and the question of gender identity being a choice or biological. The issue is a simple one for me. In order for Houston to be the great city on the hill that it can be, we must make a moral declaration that no one can being treated unfairly in our utopia. It doesn’t matter if someone is born a certain way or what their lifestyle choices lead them to, no one should be made to feel less than human.

HERO, as it’s being called, will also protect African American Houstonians who for too long have been discriminated against in certain parts of town. As an African American male I have witnessed others not only barred entry into an establishment, but also physically assaulted at the door for refusing to leave after being denied entry. There was no recourse for these young men to seek justice. With Houston being a part of the South, it has a history of segregation that sought to keep our great city from coexisting harmoniously. The remnants of segregation are still alive today and it is evident through the makeup of our neighborhoods. These great divides exist not only in geography but within the minds of those that reside in these historic neighborhoods, as well. HERO will seek to protect citizens from being treated differently regardless of what part of town they choose to live, work, or play.

I can understand some of the concern from the community. As a Christian, I try to practice the principles taught through Holy Scripture daily. Therefore, I can’t ignore the principles of love, tolerance, and equality of my fellow man. I have always stated my belief that the Bible is not a textbook for government; it is a religious document that guides our spiritual beliefs. In a country that is founded on the concept of religious freedom we have to embrace the idea that people have a right to believe what they choose and be who they are. When we begin to challenge the notion of protecting our fellow man from being treated wrongly then it is the opinion of this writer that we have lost our way.

Amen to that. Now let’s pass this thing already. Texas Leftist has more.

UPDATE: And “Amen” to today’s Chron editorial.