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The city of Plano passed a controversial Equal Rights Ordinance last week which “prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation, employment practices, housing transactions and city contracting practices.”
The new ordinance will expand Plano’s non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This new language could potentially allow transgender persons to claim access to the bathroom of their choice.
Critics to the ordinance are alarmed by the potential of the new law and the ways it infringes upon citizens’ religious liberty and first amendment rights.
Several Collin County Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the Plano Mayor and City Council opposing the ordinance, including State Senator and Attorney General-elect Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), State Representatives Pat Fallon (R-Grand Prairie), Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker), Jeff Leach (R-Plano), State Representative-elect Matt Shaheen (R-Plano), Collin County Judge Keith Self, and Collin County Commissioners Susan Fletcher, Cheryl Williams, and Duncan Webb. The letter requested that the city postpone the vote, arguing that there had not been adequate time for the public to weigh in on the proposed changes to the city ordinances:
“We do not believe there has been adequate time for the public and community leaders to be a part of the discussion of such a major, wide sweeping change in law and policy for Plano. As husbands and wives with children, we have concerns that your sexual orientation and transgender ordinance may place women and children at risk and does not consider the moral or religious beliefs of Plano citizens or vendors who do business with the city.”
The lawmakers’ letter included a list of nine reasons they opposed the ordinance, including infringements on religious freedoms and First Amendment rights, concerns about exposing Plano businesses to civil lawsuits and burdens not faced by other businesses in Collin and Denton Counties, the “subjective” definition given to “gender identity” protections that was not in Texas law, and the likelihood that the ordinance would “cause division in our community” and entangle the city in expensive litigation.
Texas Values issued a press release stating:
Within a few hours of Plano residents becoming aware of the proposed ordinance, over 1,600 emails were sent to the Plano City Council opposing the ordinance. Despite the diverse opposition to the ordinance at the meeting, including racial minorities, small business owners, and legal experts, the Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere still invoked the history of race and women as a reason for passing the new law. Mayor LaRosiliere seemed convinced that LGBT sexual lifestyle choices are more important and historically relevant than religious freedom, as the new law allows LGBT choices to trump religious rights. The packed council room of opposition included only a few people who supported the ordinance; an ACLU representative and a few LGBT activists.
Featured photo courtesy of Texas Values
Tags: equal rights ordinance, first amendment rights, Plano City Council, religoius liberty
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