The repeal of the LGBT protection ordinance
Last night City Council voted to repeal the LGBT protection ordinance that was signed into law this past June after finding itself in receipt of a legally valid petition to place the matter on the ballot. There were certainly some odd things happening in those chambers last night, and I thought I would comment on them here.
- Contradictions: one of the main themes that emerged was the complaint that the council members are there to “represent us”. Several people enjoined council to “start doing their job”; one lady opined that counsellors needed to “start representing us right.” Yet in the next breath, the same folks were stating they just “want to bring this issue to a vote of the people”. This is curious to me: either you want a representative government, or you want a pure democracy. After some reflection, I’m not sure that many in attendance last night actually know the difference.
- Lack of critical thinking skills: “we don’t need this law in Sterling Heights because nobody here discriminates against gays.” Somehow, opponents of this civil rights law are preternaturally gifted with omniscience and can speak with great authority on what does and does not happen outside their direct view in a city of 130,000 people. Yet at the same time, these folks object to the law because in their view it is “too vague” and “has too many loopholes,” which I would have taken for an argument to make the law even more rigorous if I didn’t know better. Still others were upset because they felt the law did not give a proper exception for people to discriminate in deference to their religious beliefs. This is the “any port in a storm” approach to political discourse: apparently “any argument that I can come up with” will suffice when confused by the facts and logic of a situation and the only thing you’re certain of is that you’re opposed.
- Flagrant disrespect for the political process: We actually had someone get tossed out of the meeting last night for an uncontrolled outburst, and it was necessary to threaten the same to several others whose behavior was becoming unacceptable. Despite the fact that council listened patiently to over two hours of barely coherent rhetoric against the ordinance, a group of people decided they wouldn’t sit still for Mr. Skrzyniarz’s explanation for why he was about to give them what they wanted by voting to repeal the ordinance, and disrupted the meeting by walking out en masse. All of these “great Americans” who were prepared to cite the Constitution chapter and verse weren’t familiar enough with the political process to avoid acting like the very rabble the framers were trying to prevent from ruling the day back in the 1700s.
To only say I’m disappointed that the ordinance appears to be on its way off the books really doesn’t cover the range of things I found distasteful about last evening’s proceedings. I’m far more disappointed that the political process has been hijacked by folks who apparently have no qualms against prevarication in service of achieving their political ends. I find it reprehensible that the ringleaders of this movement against the LGBT community will place themselves on a pedestal of fighting for religious freedom while at the same time ignoring all of the basic tenets of the religion they’re claiming to defend. And I’m disgusted by the sheer lack of decency and decorum that was on display last evening.
Whatever your political view, the goal of the political process remains the same: to achieve peaceful, and maybe even thoughtful, resolutions to the issues of the day. I would like to think that, for most of us, a fair hearing of the facts is the preferable method of arriving at a decision for or against an issue. Distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies by the petitioners were the only way that these folks were able to bring down a decent if not perfect city ordinance. Unfortunately, last night the nut jobs won, and we’re all worse off for it. I hope sanity returns to those chambers soon.