By Tony Perkins
The degrading comments of a city councilman aligned with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and other prominent businesses in my hometown are sending a message to Christians and conservative businesses that they are not welcomed in Louisiana’s Capital City. In attempting to pass a special rights measure based upon sexual behavior last Wednesday, Councilman John Delgado ironically lashed out at opponents in his closing remarks alleging that their opposition to the controversial ordinance was using the council to impose a “Christian version of Sharia law on the citizens of Baton Rouge.” The comments came after three and half hours of public comment on the so-called “Fairness Ordinance”, a measure similar to the one recently adopted by the Houston, Texas council and now the focus of a citizen-led referendum to overturn it.
The “Fairness Ordinance” would create a new cause of action in District Court for allegations of discrimination on the basis of various categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity, something the Louisiana Constitution explicitly prohibits.
Led by my good friend Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, over 75 different churches and a number of prominent pastors assembled at the Metro Council meeting in opposition to the ordinance, many making the point it was not Christians and churches trying to make impositions upon the citizens but rather homosexual activists that are less than 3% of the population.
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Dr. Tommy Middleton, head of the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, made a compelling presentation saying, “It’s a matter of conscience” and asked, “What is wrong with speaking your mind? What’s wrong with someone who has Biblical values?” And my former physician, Dr. Jere Melilli, who is also a pastor and founder of Christian Life Academy, spoke against the proposed ordinance and drew the council’s attention to the alarming, but often covered-up, health consequences associated with homosexual behavior.
As the fallout from these types of special rights ordinances spreads from major city to major city, pastors and citizens are making the trips to city council meetings, they are making the phone calls, sending the emails and even preaching the sermons knowing that the freedom of speech — and more importantly the freedom of religion — is at risk.
While not surprised at how the advocates of these measures slander the opposition, it is alarming that the Baton Rouge Area Chamber would want to be a part of sending a such a religiously-discriminatory message that only certain citizens are welcome to participate in the democratic process. To my friends and business associates in Baton Rouge, I would strongly suggest you find another, more tolerant voice to represent you and your business like the Chamber of Commerce of East Baton Rouge Parish.
For those in Baton Rouge, the measure will be back. Unable to muster the needed votes to pass, the supporters of the controversial ordinance used up the allotted time so that it would not be voted down, and will carry it over to their next meeting on August 13th. If you live in Baton Rouge I would encourage you to again contact your city council representative and encourage them to support true fairness and vote against the fairness for some measure advocated by Councilman Delgado and the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.
While this matter may be local, it represents a pattern of attack by activists hostile to religious freedom across the country. The only way we will stem this tide is to stand together against it.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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