On the way home from driving the carpool to school today, I was listening to our local public radio station’s morning show, First Coast Connect. They were discussing the ongoing struggle to get Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance updated. This will be the third time the city council has voted on it. It’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT people in the workforce and in businesses here– people can be fired or refused basic service for being gay or transgendered. Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida without discriminatory protections. This has impacted which businesses come here and the hiring practices for those already here.
I have a friend who, I like to say, is the brother my parents never game me. I love him very much as well as his husband and the two sweet boys they adopted. Several years ago, after he left Jacksonville for New York and then Massachusetts, I was carping on how much I missed having him nearby and he said, “I’m sorry, I just don’t think Jacksonville is where I should be right now. It’s not where I can raise my family.” At the time he said this, “his family” would not have even been legally recognized here. Gay marriage was still banned here until 2014.
I was thinking about him this morning as I listened. An image came into my mind of him and his family sitting at a table in a restaurant. If I’m understanding things correctly, it’s legal for the restaurant owner here to refuse his family the same service they’d offer mine, specifically because they are a same-sex marriage.
Not because they were loud or disruptive in a way that harassed other guests. Not because they refused to pay the bill. Not because they broke any kind of law. Just because of who they are and how the business owner feels about that.
That is discrimination.
If that happened to them, there is no recourse they could take. Our current ordinance in Jacksonville sides with the restaurant owner to turn away anyone they please simply for who they are. It reminds me of pre-war Germany turning away those with yellow stars although, that was for the Jews. The nazis made gay men wear pink triangles and if they were gay and jewish, two of them like a pink star.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. You are all one….” (Galatians 3:28)
It really turned my stomach. And it stuck with me all day– key clue to, “use my words.” The end of that verse in Galatians is, “…in Christ Jesus.” The opposing group that’s prevented Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance from passing is evangelical christians.
I wonder if those opposing have loved ones affected by discrimination. Have they considered the heartache and impact their position has on actual human beings? Can they remember these are not ideas but real lives being discussed? Do they realize that a culture that legalizes discrimination can simply swing back over to bite them in the ass? Christians have been discriminated against in history. They’ve been fired for who they are. Killed for who they are. I hope the Christian community, of which I am also a part of, sees the irony of the situation and remembers to do unto others as they’d have done unto them.
We live in a country that was built to allow freedoms to all. Human rights are equal rights.
*You can read more about Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance and the upcoming February 14th vote by clicking on the link.
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