UPDATE: A point of clarification on the polling data surrounding the ordinance, which will go down in flames at the Metro Council later today.
There are two polls. The Times-Picayune’s online poll said that 70 percent of its respondents support the fairness ordinance, and there was a “scientific” poll conducted by the LSU Policy Lab on behalf of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation – which is openly agitating for the ordinance – that found 62 percent support.
Here’s the question 62 percent of the people said “yes” to…
“Would you support or oppose a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination in housing and employment based on an individual’s sexual orientation?”
You might as well ask people if they’re a bigot or not.
If you ask people if they support creating a new cause of action allowing people to sue employers or landlords for discrimination based on sexual habits, you won’t get 62 percent approval.
As for the Times-Picayune’s poll, here was the question: “How would you vote on the Baton Rouge anti-discrimination ordinance?”
We’re supposed to believe these provide the basis for public policy.
ORIGINAL: This afternoon the Metro Council in East Baton Rouge will debate a proposed “Fairness Ordinance” being brought by one of its members C. Denise Marcelle which would create a civil cause of action against those who “discriminate” against those of exotic sexuality in the workplace or housing.
The votes aren’t there to pass the ordinance. It’s going to fail on a vote somewhere between 6-6 and 8-4, from what we understand.
This thing is being pushed by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and it’s also getting glowing press from the newspapers. The Times-Picayune aided the effort to pass it by running a ridiculous online poll which found that some 70 percent of the respondents were for it. The sample of that poll wasn’t even restricted to Baton Rouge residents, making it easy to spam. And the proponents of Marcelle’s bill touted that poll as evidence of a consensus in the community in favor of the measure.
There is no evidence the people of Baton Rouge want to create a new way to sue job-creators.
What’s behind this is a rating by a gay lobby group in December which said that as “tolerant” cities go, Baton Rouge rates only 7 out of 100. The group is one you might have heard of – they call themselves the Human Rights Campaign, and it was that group which conspired with the IRS to leak the 2008 donor list for the National Organization of Marriage. HRC is in the news today for raising hell over the fact that the New York Giants have hired David Tyree, the former wide receiver who made the famous “helmet catch” to keep the Giants’ game-winning drive alive in the final moments of Super Bowl XLII, which New York won over the New England Patriots 17-14, to a front office job. Tyree made uncomplimentary statements about homosexuals on Twitter in 2011, and this group three years later is still hounding him in an effort to diminish his prospects of employment.
That’s who Marcelle and her allies are attempting to please.
There is some question of whether the Louisiana Constitution even permits the creation by local governments of a cause of action. Former state senator Woody Jenkins offered this on Facebook yesterday…
The proposed Gay Rights Ordinance before the Metro Council Wednesday would allow one private citizen to go into District Court and file suit against another private citizen or a private business for violation of the ordinance.
But the Louisiana Constitution says that a City Council cannot “enact an ordinance governing private or civil relationships.”
The proposed ordinance says this:
§ 9:1303 Violations; remedies; and definitions
(A) Any violation of the provisions of this chapter shall give rise to a civil cause of action, which shall be brought in the district court of East Baton Rouge Parish, seeking damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, and court costs.
But the Louisiana Constitution says this:
LOUISIANA CONSTITUTION Article VI §9. Limitations of Local Governmental Subdivisions — Section 9.(A) Limitations. No local governmental subdivision shall (1) define and provide for the punishment of a felony; or (2) except as provided by law, enact an ordinance governing private or civil relationships.
Councilman Ryan Heck, who opposes the ordinance even though he had been one of a small minority on the council supporting a non-binding resolution a few months ago calling on the state legislature to repeal obsolete sodomy laws, is going to offer a replacement bill which doesn’t provide any new grounds for suit…
WHEREAS, the populations of the Parish of East Baton Rouge and of the City of Baton Rouge are richly diverse, composed of people of varied walks of life, backgrounds, and experiences, with variegated world-views, belief-systems, convictions, and values, who exhibit distinctive innate characteristics and have chosen sundry affiliations, who are animated by various passions, interests, and desires, and who pursue different aspirations, hopes, and dreams; and
WHEREAS, the people of the Parish and the City, despite these differences, nevertheless share the belief that all persons should be treated fairly and with dignity and respect and should be given the opportunity to prosper and to flourish; and
WHEREAS, diversity is a critical component of a vital, thriving, and successful community; and, WHEREAS, tolerance of diversity strengthens a community, deepening the bonds between and fostering greater mutual understanding among those who are a part of it; and
WHEREAS, a commitment to diversity, by creating a welcoming atmosphere of openness and acceptance, helps to attract business and create jobs, thereby enhancing the local economy;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor and the Metro Council of the Parish of East Baton Rouge and the City of Baton Rouge declare that it is the policy of the Parish and of the City to reject unjust discrimination against any person whomsoever and of any kind whatsoever, above all in the hiring, promotion, or firing of employees, in the provision of goods or services, or in the buying, selling, or leasing of housing.
The effect of this ordinance, were it to pass, would be that every employer interviewing candidates could be subject to nuisance lawsuits by rejected members of the “LGBT” community in Baton Rouge city court, and bad public relations brought by gay groups as leverage to settle those lawsuits. It’s a potential nightmare for employers, and the only way to avoid it would be preferential hiring.
There is no showing, by the way, of an economic disparity between gay people and straight people in Baton Rouge. Gay people are not economically underprivileged in this city by any measurable standard.
If the Metro Council wants to extend an olive branch to the Human Rights Campaign in an effort to improve its PR, then let it pass Heck’s substitute measure. Inflating the number of lawsuits in town for no reason other than to placate a noisy extremist lobby is idiocy, and it should be called out as such.
And no, it is neither bigotry nor intolerance to say so. We can choose not to live in the gay lobby’s Bizarro World as citizens of a free country.