Mayor Lane sets the record straight on Scottsdale LGBT nondiscrimination pursuit

There has been an effort over the last year or so by the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender community to institute through law a protected class designation for their members.

Jim Lane

Jim Lane

I and the entire council passed a resolution to support a voluntary “unity pledge” in 2014 to recognize our commitment to inclusion and equality for all members of our community with emphasis on the LGBT community, it was however not sufficient for the LGBT community.

Though I have not ever supported a LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, I believe in equality and inclusion for all people. It’s dangerous legislating morality and other social issues, particularly when it pits one person’s beliefs against another.

There is no reason to accuse an individual with discrimination on the basis of a perception or implication that their beliefs are different from someone else. I believe an ordinance is not only not necessary but is even counterproductive to the intent and desire of “one community.” It separates us, it divides us, and it creates an environment of self-imposed segregation.

Any law that deems that an implied or perceived difference in belief structure by a decision-maker is prima facie evidence of a crime of discrimination stands on dangerous grounds. It is consummate to government penalizing someone for an unacceptable thought.

The abandonment of the pursuit of the LBGT Non-Discrimination Ordinance (article of 3-2-2016 re: LGBT NDO) was a halt initiated by two of its ardent council advocates. The council all agreed to halt the process at their request. The reason was a change in their acceptance of provisions stipulated by council that had required staff to craft terms within the ordinance to protect freedoms of speech and of religion for those who stood to be accused on the basis of their own beliefs, as well as a small-business exemption. They and the LGBT leadership choose to shut it down, citing the carve-out for these protections as unacceptable.

The episode with Houston’s NDO and its mayor’s overzealous investigation into Church sermons under their LGBT NDO in Houston and the subsequent reaction of the public to initiate an anti-NDO referendum, which lead to an overwhelming vote for the law’s reversal, likely had something to do with their decision not to pursue this NDO. The issue divided the Houston community terribly.

One of the most fervent LGBT activists in Scottsdale, Mr. John Greco shares at least an equal part of the responsibility in the re-consideration of the pursuit of the NDO. He is rude, vicious and hateful to Christians, the Pope and anyone who holds a different view of religion, personal beliefs and /or politics. They are all insulted, berated and demonized by him.

He has sighted, as has this paper, that some 50 hateful responses of the 88,000 council requested pledges from our residents as evidence of our bigoted community. Most of those were chastising the Council for using city funds to request their sign-up with an LGBT community organization based Unity Pledge. I understand their complaint in that regard, but the intent was to demonstrate our community’s commitment to inclusion and equality, which for the most part, it did.

Mr. Greco’s continuing rant accusing me of backward bigoted thinking and of my falling victim to “right-wing Christian extremists who unashamedly embrace bigoted and barbaric Old Testament values” is oddly contradictory in that I have heard none of that. But his barrage of emails with vitriolic commentary (sometimes 2-3 times a week) is extreme in demonstration of his hate of others. So much so, that most of my Council colleagues have said they don’t read them.

The LGBT identity group is by most indicators one of the wealthiest and most successful identity demographics in Scottsdale and likely the country. They undoubtedly have built great personal character for themselves through the difficult process of growing up gay. Unfortunately the misguided “tough love” from parents is much tougher on gay kids than the “tough love” I received. The other night I was asked and attended the opening of a new furniture store here in Scottsdale.

I welcomed the owners Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams here and congratulated them on their great decision to locate in Scottsdale. It is their thirtieth store and their first in Arizona. Mitchell sent over a signed copy of his book “Youth in Crisis” … ”What everyone should know about growing up gay”. He notes in his book of the harm caused by religious-based bigotry, but also notes “although much has been accomplished there is still more to do.” I get that, and I believe we’ll do better getting there by working together and respecting the rights of all people.

Scottsdale is inclusive and is committed to equality. There will always be some hateful knuckleheads, but better to change all hearts than to divide us because of a few.

Editor’s note: Mr. Lane is the mayor of Scottsdale

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