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August 14, 2003

Why Not Here In Frederick?

David 'Kip' Koontz

Much is being said about the Frederick County Human Relations Commission's request to include "sexual orientation" in the list of those protected from discrimination in Frederick County.

There seems to be some confusion that federal law in some way covers that.

It does not.

The Civil Rights Act has never been amended to include "sexual orientation," hence the reason one sees the discussion taking place on the state and local levels.

While it is true that state law now lists "sexual orientation" as a protected class, not having it codified in county law will force those who believe they have been discriminated against because of it, will have to have any hearing on the matter in Baltimore City.

All other classes protected under county statute have hearings in Frederick.

While some may not find it important, one can easily ask the question: "Why can we allow all other protected classes to have their hearing in Frederick, but not those who file a complaint because of their real or perceived sexual orientation?"

Unless, of course, Frederick's goal is to purposely perpetuate institutionalized discrimination against this class of citizens.

Maybe the reverse should be requested - that all classes of protected people be removed from county statute so that there will be equality, as all those who might face discrimination would have to go to Baltimore for their hearing.

Of course, that shouldn't happen. But can't you imagine the outcry of those who oppose inclusion of "sexual orientation" in county statute, if say, someone who thought they were discriminated against because of their version of religion had to drive to Baltimore for a hearing?

It would probably be loud enough to bring down the walls of Winchester Hall.

It has been said it that this is about "politics."

Sexually oriented people have not made it about politics - the opponents to inclusion have.

Sexually oriented people simply want the ability to have their "day in court" so to speak, in the same community in which they live.

Many misuse God and Jesus in their defense against inclusion, yet it was Christ who said in John 13:34-35, "As a new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another."

In Matthew 25:40, Christ said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

And in Matthew 25:45, he continued, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me."

Sounds like Jesus Christ preached inclusion, not exclusion.

Paul's letter to the Ephesians declares that people are reconciled with God through God's grace and that those who experience God's forgiveness are called upon to live life as the transformed people they have become.

To that end, Ephesians 4:29 reads: "Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear."

And 4:31-32 reads: "Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you."

Unfortunately, many of those who argue against inclusion seem to skip over these charges as they condemn those to whom these protections would convey in no way reflective of the teachings in Ephesians.

Maybe if we focus on these basic tenets of Christianity, we will come to understand that inclusion and equality may very well have been that goal which Christ encouraged us to achieve.

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