Preachers, politicans protest ordinance for gay workers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Preachers, politicans protest ordinance for gay workers

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A group of preachers and elected officials held a press conference Tuesday to protest a proposal that would prohibit Shelby County employees and contractors from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.

Group members said the ordinance blurs the meaning of civil rights and gives special treatment to gay people, and they said they'll work to defeat and county commissioner who votes in its favor.

"This ordinance is not asking for equality for gays. Rather, it is recklessly demanding special status for them," said Pastor Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church.

Opponents of the ordinance were confronted by those who support the plan. They said the preachers' arguments support the need for the ordinance.

"I think what we've just heard gives further justification for the reason for this ordinance," said Jonathan Cole with the Tennessee Equality Project.

After the press conference, preachers, politicians and gay rights supporters engaged in heated one-on-one conversations.

One such conversation happened between Jacob Flowers of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, and Rev. William Owens, of the Coalition for African American Pastors. Owens marched for civil rights in the 1960's but says he opposes gay rights.

"Anybody who is pro-gay, a man or woman, is distorted in the mind," said Owens.

"I'm distorted in my mind?" said Flowers.

"Yes, sir!" said Owens.

Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker told Flowers that if the ordinance passed, cross-dressers could teach school.

"I think you're using an extreme example to sensationalize the story for people," Flowers said.

Probate court clerk Chris Thomas also argued with Flowers, telling him, "The things that you're saying are pro-gay."

To which Flowers replied, "No, they're pro freedom and justice. As an elected official, I am very disappointed in you."

Gay minister Elaine Blanchard also voiced her disappointment.

"These preachers who stand up and say that this has nothing to do with Jesus or morality, they're not speaking for Jesus," she said. "Jesus was about equality."


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