SHREVEPORT, La. — Shreveport City Council is expected to vote on Tuesday on a proposal that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of protected classes.
While Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover signed an executive order in 2009 declaring protections for all city employees who are homosexual or transgender, the proposed Fairness Ordinance would extend the provisions to all residents within the city.
“We are committed to vigorously enforcing this policy at all levels of City government,” Glover stated upon citing the order. “Today, as leaders and citizens of Shreveport, we take another important step towards our goal to become the next great city of the South.”
The Fairness Ordinance before city council would prohibit employers from firing or declining to hire employees that are homosexual or transgender. Landlords would also be barred from turning away prospective tenants due to their sexuality.
While there are exemptions for religious groups, such as churches, non-profit organizations and small businesses with less than eight employees, it is unclear whether it would be illegal for a Christian business owner to require that staff be Christian or abstain from sexual immorality.
If passed, those who violate the statute would be fined $500 for the first offense, and $1,000 for every offense thereafter.
New Orleans and Baton Rouge currently both have similar laws on the books, with the latter providing protections based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
As previously reported, similar legislation was approved earlier this year in San Antonio, Texas after controversy erupted over the proposed statute.
“We are not breaking new ground or doing anything revolutionary,” asserted Councilman Diego Bernal, who supported the measure. “We are merely doing what more than 180 cities and towns have done, which is to say that everyone deserves to live free from discrimination. Houston, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Ft. Worth, Waco and Brownsville already have theirs in place. Every member of our community deserves the same.”
But in September, as reported by San Antonio Express-News, over 350 black and Latino Christians flocked to city hall to condemn the proposal and rebut common claims that homosexual behavior is comparable to the color of one’s skin.
“We oppose the ordinance on the basis of association,” African American pastor Charles Flowers declared. “The HLGC—homosexual, lesbian and gender-confused community—has sought to piggyback on the civil rights movement. The current HLGC agenda is not a legitimate extension of the civil rights movement. Therefore, we have come to announce a divorce between the civil rights movement and the HLGC agenda, citing irreconcilable differences.”
“We oppose the ordinance on a philosophical basis,” he said, “because it is based on the notion that those who choose to practice a certain lifestyle cannot change. Yet the preponderance of evidence refutes this.”
There are currently 188 cities nationwide that have similar laws in place.
Photo: Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau