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Nashville council defers homosexual rights amendment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A proposed change in Nashville law validating the homosexual lifestyle and giving no exemption to religious institutions in employment decisions involving homosexuals was deferred during a Jan. 21 council meeting until February.

Approximately 75 Christians seated in the gallery of the city hall building wore “NO” stickers, urging council members to reject the measure.

More than 300 supporters of the proposal — which has passed two of the required three readings — turned out on the steps of city hall to voice their opinion. On the opposite side of the building, strident anti-homosexual protestor Fred Phelps, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, a non-Southern Baptist Convention congregation in Topeka, Kan., led about six followers, including a 10-year-old granddaughter, in a vicious condemnation of homosexuals.

The amendment has concerned Southern Baptist Convention officials charged with the responsibility of recommending convention sites for the SBC annual meeting. Nashville has been selected as the site of the 2005 SBC annual meeting.

Also voicing concern: LifeWay Christian Resources, with more than 1,500 employees in its Nashville headquarters, and the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also based in Nashville.

Under the Nashville proposal, the words “sexual orientation” would be added to Metro Nashville’s Fair Employment and Housing Law stipulating that people cannot be discriminated against because of their “race, color, religion, national origin or sex.” The word, “sex,” meanwhile, would be changed to “gender.” The amended law would seek to protect homosexuals from the threat of being fired or denied housing because of their lifestyle.

The proposal, as currently drafted, does not exempt churches, religious organizations or Christian business owners who believe that homosexuality is a sin. A separate measure was introduced Jan. 21 that would provide an exemption for religious organizations.

One of the initial proposal’s sponsors is a councilman, Chris Ferrell, who is a member of a local Baptist congregation affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, an organization based in Washington, D.C., that has endorsed homosexual rights, including ordination to the clergy.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: ‘NO’, PUSHING THE PROPOSAL and PHELP’S PROTEST.

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