The Left calls them “fairness ordinances” -- but for whom? Certainly not Christians, many of whom are being hauled before city commissions as casualties of them -- or worse, losing their jobs and businesses altogether. No, these aren’t fairness ordinances. They’re a license to discriminate against anyone who holds the mainstream view of marriage or sexuality.
Thanks to a very public clash in Houston that pulled back the curtain on the LGBT’s agenda, Americans are starting to wake up to the nightmare of these ordinances, which slipped through too many cities when voters weren’t paying attention. Now they are -- and their pushback is throwing a major wrench in the Left’s plans. In states where these measures might have snuck by, more churches and families are on guard, ready to go to the mat against a movement disguised as “equality” but delivering anything but.
This week in Starkville, Mississippi, members of the city council voted 5-2 to rescind a special rights ordinance. People on the ground knew there was storm brewing when Human Rights Campaign came to Starkville and convinced the Mayor to back it. “I just think he hoodwinked the Board,” said Buddy Smith of American Family Association, whose headquarters are in Mississippi. “They didn’t know what they were passing. You know it’s all dressed up in ‘discrimination language’...” “We all know that the mission of the Human Rights Campaign is to create special rights for those who are choosing the homosexual lifestyle -- to kind of force this as something that’s good and natural among those who don’t believe that’s good behavior.”
In Fayetteville, it took a groundswell of voters to undo what the liberal council had done. But ultimately, those voters prevailed, voiding a measure by a 52-48 margin that, among other things, would have allowed men to use the girls’ public showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms. The ordinance even made it possible for business owners to face criminal prosecution for failing to follow the government mandates.
For now, Arkansas’s courage seems to have spread all the way to Arizona, where local officials are rethinking a measure that would unfairly punish businesses and conservatives for their faith. Desperately trying to avoid the clash that stole headlines in other areas, the city of Glendale is putting the brakes on their proposal until they can weigh the fallout. Hopefully, they’ll come to the same conclusion as Starkville and avoid Houston’s mistakes, which led to an intrusive, unprecedented attack on area churches.
Over in Plano, Texas, community leaders are digging in their heels. While the consequences play out in other towns, Mayor Harry LaRosiliere insists, “The Equal Rights Ordinance states that Plano is against discrimination, bullying, and hatemongering.” Maybe, depending on who the targets are. If they’re Christians -- like Atlanta fireman Kelvin Cochran -- the bullying isn’t just ignored, but encouraged.
That’s why Texas pastors, who are starting to realize the power they have to galvanize their local communities, are leading the charge. Pastor Rafael Cruz, Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) dad, is seizing the opportunity to call for more people of faith to become involved in the political arena -- whether that’s on the local school board, PTA, city council, or legislature.
“We believe the Plano City Council is attempting to silence people of faith in the workplace,” Pastor Mike Buster told reporters at a rally this week. And they aim to stop it. With just 3,822 signatures, the voters of Plano can either force the City Council to repeal the ordinance or put it on the May ballot. Either way, voters will have the final say. Which is exactly how it should be..
If you’re wondering what the effect of these special rights ordinances actually is, ask Barronnelle Stutzman. The owner of Washington’s Arlene’s Flowers, a fixture in the community for years, is staring down a lawsuit that could take away -- not just her business, but her home and all of her personal assets. This week, a Benton County Court ruled that Stutzman could be personally sued because she politely declined to participate in a same-sex “wedding” order from two longtime customers.
In an almost unprecedented move, AG Bob Ferguson made the attack personal, launching a second legal challenge to hold Barronnelle personally and financially responsible. The move, a bold and aggressive one, wasn’t considered all that viable by some experts, who thought Stutzman would be shielded by the Consumer Protection Act.
Not so, ruled Judge Alex Ekstrom. In a 35-page decision, he said the state could move forward with its campaign to financially destroy the Washington grandmother. “The Court concludes that the legislature intended to allow the attorney general independent unfettered authority to bring this action.” In other words, this judge is suggesting that the state should be able to rob you of your home, livelihood, and anything else of value simply because you hold a different political view than the people in power!
That’s a horrifying precedent, one that flies in the face of our basic liberties. But unfortunately, these liberals are echoing what the Houston mayor said: this is personal. And the Left is willing to take down sportscasters, educators, athletes, small businesses, wedding vendors, firefighters, and anyone else to send the message that they will not tolerate disagreement.
As our friends at ADF said, does that sound like freedom to you? Does it sound like fairness? Americans need to wake up and realize that the Left is playing for keeps -- and in the case of these special ordinances, those keeps include everything Christians own.
With terrorists sweeping through the Middle East (and now Europe), you’d think the Obama administration would be a little more cautious in its immigration strategy. Think again. The gates have been wide open to the U.S., where more than 300,000 people from predominately Muslim countries have streamed in at record rates. And now, as the Financial Times notes, under the President’s amnesty order, “the welcome mat is bigger than ever.”
In our government, which can’t even design a functional health care website, the prospect of adequately vetting these newcomers isn’t exactly comforting. It took less than 20 radical Muslims to carry out 9/11. Just think of the consequences if our government was successful 999 times out of 1,000. If just a handful of radicals slipped through and organized terrorist activities here on U.S. soil, the consequences would be devastating.
Under the student visa deal, “if some never show up on college campuses or they overstay their visas, it doesn’t matter. Obama is no longer enforcing deportations... Over the 2010-2013 period (when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State), the administration let in an additional 41,094 from war-torn Iraq and 38,644 from Egypt. Meanwhile, he’s cut Israeli immigration by 817.” The President needs only to look to Paris to see how this open-door policy is working out.
And although the White House is rolling out the red carpet for others, we’d like to ask the Obama administration this: how many Christians are you letting in? With a new report calling the world’s Christians among the most persecuted of all religious groups, does this same hospitality apply to them too? Anecdotal reports suggest not.
In Jordan alone, 20 Christian Iraqi refugees said that they had experienced problems dealing with Muslim intake officers at the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). When a Christian refugee went to UNHCR, the Muslim intake officer’s first question was “What is your religion?” When she said she was a Christian, the officer refused to look at her documents and said that she would call the woman later to set up on appointment.
After waiting five months, she went back to UNHCR. According to Bill Murray at the Iraqi Christian Refugee Report, the intake officer refused to see her. And she isn’t alone. Men and women of faith may have different backgrounds, but they all share the same story: religious discrimination.
** FRC’s media shop has been hopping these last few days, as FRC’s Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin stopped by Fox News this morning to give his take on the latest terror news in France. Click below to watch. Also, don’t miss my interview with Neil Cavuto from yesterday on the same controversy here.
*** For more on the firestorm over firefighter Kelvin Cochran, check out the op-ed from FRC’s Travis Weber, “City of Atlanta: No Orthodox Christians Need Apply.”
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.