Religious exemption from LGBTQ anti-discrimination proposal

Suddenly there’s a lot going on about the proposal to include LGBTQ Omahans under our city’s anti-discrimination laws. The most recent development is that yes, there will be an exemption for religious organizations to try to minimize opposition.

My instinctive reaction is, “Religious exemption? Oh, okay.” There are already exemptions for hiring people of your faith to, well, teach your faith. If your faith happens to teach that gays are that big of a deal, you don’t want a straight Sunday school teacher who supports gay marriage, and especially not a gay Sunday school teacher (ignoring the conception that all gays are pedophiles, and if not they’re still recruiting).

That being said, as I wondered in my last entry, where do you draw an acceptable line? I am okay with the idea that public representatives and teachers of a faith should be chosen based on their adherence to their faith’s tenets. But while the social environment in such an organization will probably be hostile to queers/allies to begin with, we shouldn’t continue to allow an environment that’s legally hostile to people whose orientation or gender identity has precisely nothing to do with the execution of their work. Desk clerks, IT admins, groundskeepers, accountants, this means you.

One Mike O’Brien wrote to the World-Herald today:

Unless an individual is overtly gay, one cannot tell an individual’s sexual orientation by appearance. If individuals choose to present themselves as gay or lesbian, they are making the choice to limit their opportunities in life. It’s like tattooing our face, then crying when we cannot find a job.

But as I said on Facebook today: your bedroom and bathroom choices make no difference on the job. Certainly not those jobs out of the public eye.

I’m going to ask Ben Gray to consider this as he amends his proposal. If you’re interested in doing the same, please contact him. As noted before, if you live in Omaha, you can contact your own councilperson here; please do so, even if s/he already supports the amendment.

Finally, call the City Council offices and let them know you support it! The number is 402-444-5520. I called yesterday and it took all of 30 seconds:

Hi, my name is [ full name ]. I’m calling to say that I support Ben Gray’s proposed amendment to the city code, which would protect Omahans from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

A number of people are plugging that phone number on their Facebook statuses. I’m not saying you have to, but I did….

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