By Tony Perkins
It was well after 3:00 a.m., but to people in Billings, Montana, it was never too late to stand up to the forces of political correctness. Thanks to Mayor Tom Hanel, that’s exactly what the largest city in the state did — beating back a dangerous bathroom bill that would have literally opened the doors of Billings’s public showers, locker rooms, and restrooms to both genders in a misguided show of “tolerance.”
After a 15-year fight, the council killed the proposal 6-5, with Mayor Hanel casting the deciding vote. “I needed to ask myself, is this fair to everyone, beneficial to everyone? Will it build goodwill and friendships? I can’t say for sure,” he told the crowded room in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The Montana Family Foundation, which has pushed back against these campaigns for a decade and a half, said the Left is only lobbying for these ordinances in places like Billings to “(target) Christians and other religious groups who find the homosexual/LGBT lifestyle morally objectionable. These are people,” our friends pointed out, “now facing fines, possible jail time, and in the case of a Colorado bakery owner, a sentence of mandatory sensitivity training.”
Unfortunately, “those people” now include Victoria and Tom Miller, owners of a Pennsylvania bridal shop, who have been stunned at the amount of death threats they’ve received since turning down a double-gown order for a lesbian wedding. Liberals were so incensed by the couple’s decision that they convened a special meeting of the Bloomsburg city council for the sole purpose of drafting a local ordinance the homosexuals could sue under.
At a packed meeting Monday night, the two sides squared off on a possible “nondiscrimination” proposal. Friends of the couple accused the W.W. Bridal Boutique of prejudice and hate — two labels that were difficult to believe when Tom Miller himself spoke up. “We do give service to those people,” he explained. “But we draw the line at bridal.” The owners’ attorney, Al Luschas, pointed out that something would have to give under a measure like San Antonio’s. “The town should protect the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals, but it shouldn’t do it at the expense of religion.” Fortunately, locals were so divided that nothing concrete was proposed. “We’re going to go very slowly and cautiously,” Committee Chair Diane Levan concluded. “We want to keep both parties involved.”
In my hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, another piece of so-called “nondiscrimination” legislation was threatening at the city’s gates. Similar to what voters have battled in San Antonio, Houston, Fayetteville, and Billings, this measure would have compelled local businesses and families to celebrate homosexuality — regardless of their personal or religious beliefs.
Gene Mills, head of the Louisiana Family Forum, put it this way: “The so-called fairness ordinance actually should be called the homosexual affirmation ordinance.” It has nothing to do with equality or discrimination. It’s about tearing down the constitutional rights to conscience and demanding conformity. “Intolerance in the pursuit of tolerance is simply hypocrisy,” Gene explained. Fortunately, the Baton Rouge City Council agreed and sank the measure 8-4.
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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