The Family Research Council, the Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled hate group led by Tony Perkins, is sponsoring a gathering of preachers Tuesday in Fayetteville (local cheerleader Jerry Cox is sending out the call) that seems likely to be intended to organize opposition to the Dec. 9 vote on repeal of Fayetteville’s civil rights ordinance.
The ordinance imposes modest discouragement (a maximum $500 fine but only after failed mediation, a probable cause probe and trial) against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. The ordinance covers gender, race, religion and other categories, but the hate groups hate it because it would provide some legal protection for gay people. Perkins and Cox favor preservation of legal discrimination against gay people. The philosophy of their groups, for example, has included resistance to anti-bullying legislation, because they claim it could infringe on the right of religious people to persecute gay children.
It’s part of the Watchmen on the Wall ministry of the Research Council. Speakers include prominent anti-gay preachers and the lawyer, Stephanie Nichols, who’s been a leader in opposition to the ordinance. Pro-repeal signs were spotted over the weekend outside churches in Fayetteville. Also on the program, Baptist preacher Jeremy Flanagan, who’s claimed the ordinance could lead to women going topless at public swimming pools, men using women’s restrooms and women entering men’s restrooms. He depicts it as encouragement to pedophiles and sexual predators. He’s wrong on every count, but if you repeat something often enough, the fear-controlled will believe it, as this group knows from long experience.
Billed as “exclusively for pastors,” the session will provide preachers with a “voter impact toolkit” and include sessions on “current legal and spiritual challenges” facing the church.
In other words: This is a pep rally to organize like-minded preachers — inside and outside of Fayetteville — to do everything they can do to roll back civil rights protection in Fayetteville and preserve the ability to legally discriminate against gay people — whether in jobs, where they want to live or in purchasing goods and services.
Does Fayetteville favor legal discrimination against some people or not? That’s the question next Tuesday. With the haters or against them? That’s the subtext. The churches’ organizational strength is significant, particularly for a special election. The referendum made the ballot in a way most favorable to them. A vote FOR (who wants to be an aginner) is a vote AGAINST fairness. If the Keep Fayetteville Fair campaign loses and the ordinance is repealed, the loss will be far greater than the lost ordinance. It will be a scalp for the hate groups to wave elsewhere.
Is Fayetteville more hateful than Shreveport? Austin? Dallas? Oxford, Miss.? Starkville, Miss.? Hattiesburg, Miss.? Will it prosper from being identified that way, say, to one of the moviemakers that have frequently found Shreveport a good location?
You think they’d let a Unitarian register to attend this session? The pope? Will the cost of this session be reported as part of spending on the campaign against the ordinance. Or is this one of those independent, “educational” events?