Larry Grohn: Vote Against the Non-Discrimination and Domestic Partner Ordinance
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Yesterday City Councilman Anderson submitted an article entitled “The Truth about the Non-Discrimination and Domestic Partner Ordinance.”
Councilman Anderson is articulate, intelligent, ambitious and driven. He sincerely and firmly believes in his convictions and will go to whatever lengths necessary to promote his agenda. However, and of course, his beliefs are deeply rooted in his personal lifestyle choice and political ideology. Contrary to his opinion, I believe his convictions, morals and values are not shared by the majority of citizens of Chattanooga, especially the social conservative Christians in all parts of the city and the churches which follow the biblical concept of social justice. Please notice I said “the biblical concept of social justice”, not the worldly concept of social justice preached in many liberal churches in our city. There is a sharp and distinct difference between the two. What is worse are the church leaders who refused to make a leadership stand on this issue. Instead they might have allowed a church member to speak on this issue, but they themselves shirk from making a biblical stand from the pulpit, possibly for fear of offending part of their congregation. Please feel free to contact me for an in-depth opinion of how I feel about their leadership.
Apparently truth is what and how Councilman Anderson decides to believe and interpret it for the rest of us. For example, the councilman expects the voters to believe his LGBT legislation was never on his personal, and unspoken, agenda when he was running for office? But I’ll let the voters make up their own minds on that one.
What this referendum is TRUTHFULLY about is the fact that five liberal council members, with the full support of the mayor and pandering to the most ideologically progressive wing of their constituency, tried to cram this law down the throats of the voters. This controversial ordinance should have been placed before the voters for them to decide. But NO, five council members believed they knew best what the city and its citizens should do on this issue. Councilman Anderson even concedes it was and is a “hot-button issue.” I believe they never expected the voters could rise up and reject their vote to force it on the ballot.
The councilman may be correct with his claim that this ordinance “doesn't redefine marriage.” However, what it does do is make marriage ill-relevant and unnecessary. Under this law taxpayers would be forced to support a domestic partnership couple’s lifestyle choice, and even their dependents, against their personal morals and values. This is the modern, cultural viewpoint, which I believe is at the heart of the councilman’s personal agenda.
The councilman makes a big deal about all the companies granting these types of benefits. I could care less about multi-national private and corporate free-market companies making a decision on the benefits they are willing to offer their employees. On the other hand, Chattanooga is a citizen-owned government corporation which taxes its residents and then allows them to elect their chief operating officer (the mayor) and the board (the council). Any citizen who does not agree with the decisions these elected officials make has three choices:
1) they can move out of the city;
2) they can elect different candidates at the next election; or,
3) they can petition to redress issues upon which they disagree with current officeholders.
The councilman rightly claims that passage of the ordinance will not bankrupt the city. I believe that statement alone indicates his complete ideological disconnect with the majority of voters in Chattanooga. It has never been about the amount it would cost! It is about the religious and moral implications it presents.
The councilman claims “If it fails, it will continue to be legal for the city to terminate someone merely because they are gay.” His own inclusion of Capt. Cooper’s successful career story would seem to dispel that statement.
The councilman bemoans the fact that Chattanooga does not have an anti-discrimination law and urges the voters to for “FOR” the ordinance in order to protect the employees. The real truth is Chattanooga could have easily had an anti-discrimination ordinance passed on Nov. 19, 2013 - which would not have been challenged by petition. Our city does not currently have it because the councilman refused to do so. Why? Only he can answer that question. Don’t believe me? Let’s refer to the minutes from the Nov. 12, 2103 general council meeting during the first reading of the ordinance. Councilman Anderson refused to separate the two distinct parts of his ordinance.
On Nov. 12, 2013 at the 6pm general council meeting the minutes indicate:
Councilman Grohn called a point of order, asking for a “division of the question.” He objected [to the ordinance] because he thought the two components of the ordinance – domestic partnership and non- discrimination - could stand alone.
After an attempt to shut down this point of order, the minutes continue.
Atty Phil Noblett “read Robert’s Rules of Order regarding debate procedures. A discussion ensured. After much discussion, Councilman Freeman moved to previous question to end debate, Councilman Anderson seconded.
A vote was then taken on the motion to divide the question and it was defeated on the same 5 to 4 vote upon which it was subsequently passed.
The councilman also claims, “Since there is so much misinformation about this hot-button issue, I thought it would be best to simply put out the facts so voters can make an informed decision." He then provided a link to the entire ordinance.
Gee, let’s take a truthful look at the language of the ordinance so the voters will be clear on the issue before them. I will summarize just the two main sections of the document.
Sec. 2-183. Anti-Harassment Policy
Any harassment related to a person's sex, color, race, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and ethnicity will not be tolerated.
The term "harassment" includes, but is not limited to, slurs, jokes and other verbal, graphic, or physical conduct, statements, or materials relating to an individual's race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and ethnicity.
"Harassment" also includes sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, unwelcome or offensive touching, sexually provocative or abusive language, and other verbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
I am especially concerned about the inclusion and interpretation of “gender identity or expression” in the workplace.
So for the record, and contrary to what some suggest from time to time - I am not a racist, a hater or a bigot.
I do hold firm and strive to live up God’s direction in Philippians 2: 3-4 (NIV):
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Chattanooga City Council