Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

It was standing room only in City Hall, and the overflow area was packed. As citizens approached the microphone to speak, person after person implored the community to consider Jesus. They pointed to Christ’s tolerant love for others and to the priority of the Golden Rule.

Paul’s statement about the church’s oneness in Christ was cited to emphasize the need for fairness and equality. Again and again different residents proclaimed themselves uniquely created by God, bearing his (or her) image. Any traveling evangelist would have been pleased as attendees got out of their seats, walked the aisle, and declared that they are Christians. Their boldness was undeniable.

Drawing upon Mordecai’s words to Queen Esther, one speaker seemed to speak for the whole when she exhorted the City Council to act, because they were elected “for such a time as this.” For a moment I thought I was in the midst of the Third Great Awakening.

What were so many asking the City Council to do? Pass a fairness ordinance that would add LGBTQ language to Georgetown’s civil rights provision. If it were to pass, Georgetown would become Kentucky’s ninth city to equate sexual orientation and gender identity with race and gender in its non-discrimination statements.

Several dozen people gave their opinion, with slightly more speaking in favor of adopting the ordinance. After hours of discussion, the council voted 4-3 to table the issue, effectively stopping the effort for now.

I spoke against it because ordinances like this one sometimes force people, especially conservative Christians, to support activities they don’t support.

These ordinances have the potential to violate someone’s sincerely held religious beliefs. I grant that in almost every economic situation, someone’s sexuality has no bearing. But occasionally the beliefs of a business owner conflict with the requests of a customer. This happened in 2012 when Blaine Adamson’s t-shirt company was asked to make shirts for a gay pride event. Because his business is located in Lexington, which has a fairness ordinance, the customer filed a lawsuit that is still makings its way through the courts. Such lawsuits are the inevitable result when certain sexual behaviors are elevated into a protected class.

If I want some t-shirts made to promote my church and I get denied because the owner doesn’t like what my church stands for, I get it. I’ll find another company. I won’t sue anyone. I shouldn’t force people to support what they don’t believe in any more than they should force me to employ my creative talent and capital to support what I don’t believe in. That’s true fairness. But my main point is not to rehash the religious liberty angles of this familiar argument.

I simply want to observe that the more liberal side got very religious last night. Their passionate stance for Christ mimicked the spiritual high of teens returning from summer camp. They quoted Scripture and appealed to their personal religious—all in an effort to influence public policy.

I repeat: They quoted Scripture and appealed to their personal religious experience in an effort to influence public policy.

For years the left has told us this is off limits. My religion is one thing. Civil affairs are another. The two can’t mix. Thomas Jefferson’s letter to a Virginia Baptist talking about a wall of separation between church and state has been quoted with gospel zeal. Any appeal to God’s design in the public square is immediately silenced, and the speaker is given a quick civics lesson about how he can’t impose his views on others.

But when an LGBTQ interest group wants to punish people for not supporting their cause, evidently the Bible is fair game.