Human Rights Ordinance: An Honest Discussion

December 14, 2015 9 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Article by Kelsi Hasden

The second Human Rights Ordinance discussion was held on Thursday, December 3, at Edward Waters College.  The topic was religious freedom and the panel consisted of Rabbi Joshua Lief of Congregation Ahavath Chesed, Pastor Torin Dailey of First Baptist Church of Oakland, Pastor Ronnie Edwards of the Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church, and Roger Gannam of the Liberty Counsel.  Below is a summary of each speaker’s main points and the quote that received the greatest applause.

The final HRO meeting is held tonight at 6:00 pm at Jacksonville University’s Terry Concert Hall, 2800 University Boulevard N.  The discussion is titled "Understanding the Law and Its Effects on Business".  

Rabbi Joshua Lief
The purpose of the HRO is not to take away religious freedom or question whether being gay is right or wrong.  The purpose of the HRO is to protect individuals against those who will discriminate against them.   From a Jewish perspective, the HRO is not about “loving your neighbor as yourself” but “loving the stranger” because there were plenty of times when Jews were strangers.  I am glad to be in the land of the brave, because if I’m not brave enough to stand up for others’ rights, then what do I stand for?  Any discrimination is too much discrimination.

Quote that received the greatest applause:
Lief’s response to Gannim stating “In the 2009 JCCI Study, the incidents of discrimination against the LGBT were all rare.  If there were incidents of violence, that’s already illegal.  But if they are being bullied, you can’t make it illegal to make someone treat you nicely. ”:

“Yes, on an individual level, but not as a whole.  The reported number of incidents of discrimination is not equal to the actual number that happens.  [Lief brings out a bag with the KKK invitation] This is a show of force and this community has determined that this kind of behavior is not welcome here.”

Roger Gannam of the Liberty Counsel
The bill is an encroachment on freedom and limits people’s freedom in the name of equality.  What is discrimination?  It is defined by the person being discriminated against.  However, there is no consensus on how to categorize LGBT persons so the community cannot know what it is dealing with because the categories are not clear.  We need to look closely at the language of the ordinance.  The language matters because otherwise all of our freedoms are moot.  We cannot pass a law where the enforcement causes more harm than it helps; there will be unintended consequences.

LGBT persons are already protected under the current laws.  They are of a certain race, sex, class, etcetera, so there is no need to update the HRO.  The law already says that you are not welcome if you will discriminate against anyone.

Quote that received the greatest applause:
“The scripture doesn’t change over tie even though churches continue to interpret it.  We are all sinners, but a fluid, changing interpretation of the scripture causes people to support the HRO.  Those who haven’t changed the Word are opposed the HRO.  It is not the city council’s job to decide which scripture is right.”

Pastor Torin Dailey of First Baptist Church of Oakland
The HRO is not an issue of what is or is not sinful behavior.  The issue is: are we as a community willing to treat people in a way that is humane?  Because it is inhumane to pick people based on whether or not they have made a decision that we do not agree with and refuse them certain rights that we allow others.  “I should be the last person to determine if a person should or shouldn’t be able to enter a place based on their choices.  I do not have a choice but to love everyone.”  

The danger of not updating the HRO is verging on hypocritical.  This is a community that is made up of many different people and so we have to update the HRO because not everyone shares the same beliefs.  I do not endorse homosexuality but should a restaurant be able to determine who will be served based on their sexual identification?  We pick this one area and say, “No, they are not ok to be served because I don’t agree with their behavior.”  I should be the last person who will decide who deserves to enter a business and who does not.

Quote that received the greatest applause:
“Why would I spend any of my time hating?  I reject simpleness.  I ought to be intelligent enough, open minded enough, and hearted enough to embrace people who I cannot endorse.”

Pastor Ronnie Edwards of the Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church
The bill will limit the way the church functions, which is by the word of God, not by the persons outside of the religious community.  The law will trump our freedom of speech and religion.  No one should be mistreated but we do not have to embrace sin – I love you enough to tell you what you are doing is wrong.  

Quote that received the greatest applause:
“God made me black but being gay is a choice.”

Article by Kelsi Hasden