Monday, February 6, 2017

His Take On Religious Freedom

Laredo ranks at the bottom when it comes to acknowledging the rights of the LGBTQ community, according to Human Rights Campaign.  The LMT's Julia Wallace wrote that the city, along with its private sector, doesn't promote protections for those whose sexual identity is other*.

The mayor weighed in:
By all means, we're not here to discriminate against anyone.....They deserve every protection.
A welcoming gesture from the mayor -- until he goes all Hobby Lobby on us.
We're there, we care, we love.  But don't ask us to enable behavior that is against what we believe.  Religious freedoms should be first and foremost.  I think we should be able to protect those rights as well.  They're being pitted against each other, and I think we need to respect each other's views.  
The mayor's religion first stance reminds me of the time when County Judge Rumitano Tijerina, in the summer of 2015, needed time to reflect, before deciding to marry gay couples in Webb County.  The Supreme Court had just ruled that gay marriage was constitutional, but Tijerina wasn't jumping on board with the decision all that quick.

Laredo's culture is ultra-conservative, taking their cues from the church.  Tijerina's and Saenz's faith plays well with the masses.  But when the mayor invokes religious freedoms, he's subtly espousing a means to discriminate towards the LGBTQ community.  The lack of mention towards the issue in the city's policy manual, and the mayor's duplicitous tone suddenly converge nicely to give us a well-deserved low ranking by HRC.  (not Hillary Rodham Clinton, but Human Rights Campaign)

Some time ago, city hall grappled with the issue of welcoming grant money to be used for women's contraceptive needs.  Council's moral arbiter, Charlie San Miguel, sided against the grant, while pointing to his religious views.  Juan Narvaez, in a stunning turn of clarity, said something to the effect of, we cannot proselytize our faith from the dais.

The Saenz's of the world made a conscious decision to throw their hat into the political arena, opting to represent ALL of Laredo or Webb County.  They need to advocate for all their constituents, not just the ones who share their point of view.  They need to understand that their take on religious freedoms can have real life, and economic consequences for the whole city, as well as for the most vulnerable among us.

[* symbol used for brevity's sake. Yeah, that's it.]

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