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Homosexual-rights ordinance passes in Louisville after 3 previous losses

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–By a 7-5 vote, a so-called “Fairness Ordinance” outlawing job discrimination against homosexuals was passed by the board of aldermen in Louisville, Ky., Jan. 27. The ordinance in various other forms had failed three times since 1992.
The measure apparently won its slim majority when two provisions were deleted against discrimination in housing and public accommodations.
One other 11th-hour provision was also stricken from the ordinance just days before the vote. It would have required any religious organization that received 50 percent or more of its funding from local, state or federal governments to abide by the ordinance.
Last fall, Alicia Pedreira was terminated from Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children because her “admitted homosexual lifestyle is contrary to Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children core values,” according to her termination notice.
Ironically, in the ensuing months Pedreira became a symbol for the homosexual-rights ordinance that now exempts religious institutions or charities and schools operated by a religious group.
“It is very interesting to note that this legislation passed largely because it was a scaled-back version of the previously-proposed ‘Fairness’ ordinances,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
Over the last several years, the seminary has publicly opposed other efforts to grant civil rights protections to homosexuals. Mohler’s stance on the matter is no secret to Louisville’s municipal and county officials. On Jan. 21 he mailed letters to each alderman and Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong, who has said he’ll sign the legislation. Mohler also wrote letters to Jefferson County Judge Executive Rebecca Jackson and each county commissioner. Mohler expressed clear and strong opposition to the ordinance. Prior to the aldermen’s Jan. 27 vote, two Jefferson County commissioners had said they would consider a similar measure if the aldermen passed the ordinance.
“The homosexual-rights advocates took two steps back to gain one step toward what their ultimate goals are,” Mohler said in a Jan. 27 interview.
“This demonstrates the tenacity and determination of homosexual rights activists to press for special rights legislation until they achieve victory. We must face the fact the homosexual-rights movement is a full-time, well-funded, publicly acknowledged movement to legitimate the homosexual lifestyle and to gain historically unprecedented legal protections for their sexual activities and relationships.
“We fool ourselves to believe [homosexual advocates] will be satisfied with this legislation, as regrettable as it is,” Mohler said. “These advocates will not stop until they gain victory or are soundly defeated in the legislative process. Their goal is that the unthinkable will become the accepted and will gain specific legal protection.
“This is a very dark day for Louisville,” Mohler added. “Ordinances such as this one, which are proliferating across the United States, represent a direct rejection of the Judeo-Christian heritage and the moral order upon which this entire culture has been established.”
Before casting a vote in favor of the ordinance, Alderman Tina Ward-Pugh — the 1990-91 student body president at Southern Seminary — reacted strongly to “the many detractors who have called into question that which is most personal to me: my faith,” she said.
“Let me be very clear. Whether or not I am a person of faith and… a follower of Jesus or anyone else, my vote tonight would have been yes,” said Ward-Pugh, a leader in the push to adopt the ordinance.
“Tonight I am particularly honored that is exactly my faith, along with my public service, which compels me to vote yes.”
Ward-Pugh is a member of Louisville’s Crescent Hill Baptist Church. She is also a member of the “Solidarity” Sunday school class at the church. Members of the class signed a letter to the editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal that supported Ward-Pugh and the ordinance she voted for.
She graduated from Southern Seminary in 1991 and holds an M.A. in social work from the Carver School of Church Social Work. In 1995 seminary trustees voted to transfer the Carver School to Campbellsville (Ky.) University, after a trustee study committee determined that “considerable differences exist in the structures, processes and issues of social work education and theological studies.” The issue of homosexuality was cited as a factor in the decision to terminate the school as a part of the seminary.
Ward-Pugh and six other aldermen voted to defeat a motion that would have sent the ordinance to the Kentucky attorney general’s office for an opinion regarding its constitutionality.
Calls to put the question to a public referendum were ignored. And the aldermen refused to allow public hearings, citing the desire of “Fairness” advocates. “In the name of fairness, the board of alderman refused to hold public hearings, acknowledging that their decision was at the request of homosexual advocates,” Mohler said. “The aldermen who supported this ordinance were not even willing to give the citizens of the community a voice.”
The aldermen’s board operates a telephone “Opinion Line.” According to Alderman Barbara Gregg, more than 75 percent of those calling the line were opposed to the ordinance.
“Alderman [Reginald] Meeks, you talked earlier about listening to all the people,” Gregg said during the debate. “Unfortunately, I don’t think we listened to very many.”
Meeks voted for the ordinance and Gregg voted against it.
“I’m beginning to wonder why we have an opinion line,” Gregg said.
“I am just totally disgusted at the manner in which the ordinance proceeded — in total secrecy, behind closed doors and with no allowance for any kind of a public forum …,” she added.
Gregg said that in her 11 years on the board the body had never dealt with such a controversial ordinance — with amendments made just prior to the meeting — and passed it the same night. “This is unprecedented for us,” she said.
Among her grievances with the process, she also noted a litany of provisions the ordinance makes for persons who may be involved in a variety of behaviors other than those heterosexual.
Said Mohler: “The inclusion of such vague notions as ‘sexual orientation’ in this ordinance leads to constitutional questions and produces an immediate moral confusion. As it now stands, persons practicing virtually any sexual activity construed as a lifestyle have gained legal protection.
“This issue has engendered great controversy in the city of Louisville and the entire region. It has offered us an opportunity to speak clearly on the basis of Christian conviction, but the result demonstrates just how far this culture has strayed from our most foundational biblical principles.”

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  • Norman Miller