I may not have spent this Sunday in church but I clearly was in the presence of the Lord. In solidarity with an estimated five hundred citizens we stood in the sweltering heat to show our support for an ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Steve Mulroy to insure the protection and fair treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender in the workplace.
This issue has clearly been divisive, even though it shouldn't be. As the Shelby County Democratic Party's Secretary I watched as Executive Committee Member Jonathan Cole, a member of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), struggled to convince SCDP Members, mostly the black members, to support this anti-discrimination proposal. Only after making it clear that this proposal in no way endorsed same sex marriages was the body able to support it.
As I said before I support this ordinance but I can't help but point out what I feel has been a serious misstep by the gay and lesbian community. About a month or so ago I happened on a fellow blogger website. There was a posting asking, "Why do so many blacks not get it when it comes to the gay community demanding the same Civil Rights they have." I felt a need to respond even though I anticipated a negative reaction.
My response to the blogger was that even in their question they explained the problem. This looking at blacks as if we don’t understand is demeaning and insulting. African Americas gets it. As I have discussed in other postings blacks are by circumstance a conservative lot. In a macro sense social change may create opportunities for progress, but at the same time on an individual level it has almost always been devastating to the black family. The victories of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s and 70’s brought social experimenting by well meaning groups and agencies. These experiments which were not well thought out, in the end helped to decimate the black nuclear family.
The average black person’s life is built on sand. Any shift can be devastating. The church and family are two bed-rocks that anchor this community. It is far easier for white gays to challenge these sacred institutions, but for blacks the repercussions warrant greater caution. The LGBT movement must understand this and not depend on superficial slogans of Equal Rights solidarity to win over blacks but work to address common core issues that impact us all.
That being said the anti-discrimination ordinance is going before the Shelby County Commission today should be supported. It must go to a vote today – Monday, June 1st before the full County Commission for the first of three readings it must pass before it becomes law. For the ordinance to advance to a second reading it must have seven votes. Presently five Commissioners are in support, five are not, one did not vote due to family issues and two: Commissioners Sidney Chism and James Harvey have abstained. To move this ordinance forward we must convince Commissioners Chism and Harvey to support this initiative. So call or email them today.
(901-545-4301) or emailing them directly: