Memphis, TN- On the same day the California Supreme Court issued it's controversial ruling upholding Proposition 8 another fight for equal protections in employment for gays and lesbians was underway in Memphis, Tennessee.
Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy's proposed ordinance that would prohibit Shelby County employees from being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression was met with hostile opposition from former civil rights activist and minister Rev. William Owens.
"We don't want San Francisco, Shelby County," Owens said. "I don't see where these people are being discriminated against. If so, it's very isolated," he said.
Owens who marched for civil rights in the 60's offered up this shockingly bigoted quote in defense of his position; "We did not march for a select group of people to have civil rights and to have the civil rights struggle be hijacked," he said."I was born black, and I will die black. This [ordinance] is not a civil rights issue because those with that [gay] lifestyle chose that lifestyle.""I did not march one inch, one foot, one yard, for this type of legislation."
Owens along with Shelby County politicians opposed to the ordinance held a press conference Tuesday afternoon warning the public of the potential danger of passing the ordinance.
Shelby County Commissioner Wyatt Bunker told gay rights activist present during a heated public debate that if the ordinance passed, cross-dressers could teach school.
When all else fails use the children to incite fear about the gays. It's painfully obvious that many straight black folks just don't get it. And I'm personally sick of giving straight blacks a pass for their homophobia. The only thing Rev. Owens is missing is a white robe and hood. If this were 50 years ago the same pro-discrimination language would be used, the only difference is Rev.Owens would be on the receiving end.
How quickly we forget the sting of oppression when it is no longer acceptable to discriminate based on race. The California Supreme Court proved yesterday that the rights of the minority can be stripped away at anytime.
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