Midway became the eighth Kentucky city to codify sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) as protected behavior into its laws. Specifically, the law elevates SOGI to the same status as race and ethnicity in housing, employment and public accommodations.
It's dubbed a fairness ordinance, but upon closer scrutiny, the law is anything but fair to those who refuse to believe homosexuality and transgenderism are a civil rights.
Equally troubling is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to have a conversation or hold an opposing view without being labeled some kind of unflattering pejorative.
Prior to passage of the ordinance, a group of Woodford County pastors organized and promoted a town meeting called a Conversation on Religious Freedom. Over 200 residents attended the meeting that I keynoted and took several questions from the audience.
Unfortunately, it took three tries to find a venue willing to hold it since the first two hosts cancelled, presumably under pressure because the issue was too controversial. If simply talking about a tough issue is too controversial what do you think enacting a law that could punish people who hold a moral view contra government dictate would do to a small community?
The proposed ordinance raised more questions than anything. Why was it necessary? How many documented cases of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination were there in Midway? (The answer, according to an open records request, is zero).
Could it potentially punish business owners who refuse to materially participate through their products or services in gay weddings should they become legal? Does this ordinance protect homosexual activity in the workplace? Does it protect crossdressing in the workplace?
Troubling questions? Yes. Rather talk about something else? Me too. But the issue has been forced upon Woodford County residents by aggressive sexual-orientation-is-a-civil-right advocates who will use the law to force residents to live according to a new moral code on human sexuality. And there is little room for disagreement.
The idea that somebody's private sexual life is nobody's business is long gone. Enter a new age where laws drag private sexual behavior into the workplace. How, you ask?
If employers shouldn't ask about somebody's private sex life during an interview and the prospective employee doesn't bring this up, then how can an employer be held accountable for failing to hire somebody based on their sexual orientation?
Also, if an openly homosexual or transgender employee is fired for poor job performance, they could claim "sexual orientation discrimination" and tie their employer up with legal proceedings. Section 11 of the ordinance prohibits frivolous claims. But isn't it frivolous to pass an unnecessary law which addresses a highly subjective category that is ripe for abuse?
What about employers publicly known for embracing high moral standards in their workplace? Should companies like Chik fil-A or Hobby Lobby be forced to hire transgender individuals who demand to be treated as the sex opposite which they were born? Under the new Woodford County law they wouldn't have a choice.
Midway's ordinance includes an exemption for churches, along with myriad other exemptions, but apparently not for clergy operating in pastoral capacity outside their church facility. Failure to specifically protect pastoral rights resulted in prosecution of Couer d'Alene, Idaho pastors Donald and Evelyn Knapp for refusing to marry a homosexual couple in their for-profit wedding chapel.
One can oppose SOGI laws in principle without denigrating another individual. Midway City Councilor Libby Warfield voted against the ordinance, even though her son is openly homosexual. He actually supported her position. Warfield amply demonstrated that one can be for an individual and embrace their humanity without agreeing with all their personal choices. SOGI laws make no room for such distinctions.
Other Kentucky cities, now being lobbied to bind community members to a new sexual ethic, find themselves at a crossroads in the conflict between religious freedom and intolerance.
It is becoming clearer that SOGI laws don't solve problems; they create them. To foster true tolerance and avoid unneeded divisiveness, local leaders should reject similar proposals.
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