Akron Councilman Jim Hurley (D-Ward 1) and the Non-Discrination Ordinance

My letter to the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal regarding my councilman’s view that his religious convictions allow him to vote against legislation that bars the City of Akron from discriminating in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Needless to say, Councilman Hurley will not be getting my vote in the next election.

(2009.12.16 Update: The Beacon Journal informed me that the letter violated their 350 word max. submission guidlines. The letter which may appear in the paper has been shortened.)

To the Editor:
On November 30th, Akron City Council passed a sexual orientation or gender identity non-discrimination ordinance. While this accomplishment is commendable, it falls short of what justice and equality demand. Amendments to the legislation made an exception to the prohibitions against discrimination for both religious groups that contract with the city, and businesses that contract with the city to provide services for children. While the former exception may be understandable (though one wonders why the services could not be provided by another non-religious agency) the latter is patently offensive. Since when has homosexuality been equated with pedophilia? Should we be equally concerned with heterosexual individuals providing services to children of the opposite sex?
But, these concerns pale in comparison to the comments made by Councilman Jim Hurley (D-Ward 1). Not only did Councilman Hurley have a problems with this legislation, but he also apparently has problems with any legislation that conflicts with his religious convictions. In statements reported by the Akron Leader, Councilman Hurley also has a problem with the lack of discipline and prayer in schools, and with the removal of the Lord’s Prayer from Council proceedings.
I was not aware when I voted for Councilman Hurley that I was also voting for his religious convictions. The myriad ways his approach to legislating is problematic would require far more space than I have allotted here, but for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that I do agree with his views on the mixing of religion, public education and politics. If we were to reinstitute prayer in school, will we have Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, and Wiccan prayers along with Christian prayers? Will there be moments of question for agnostic children, and maybe a morning of no prayer for atheists? Should the same diversity apply to the prayer before council meetings? Furthermore, since Councilman Hurley is relying on his reading of the bible for discrimination against homosexuals, would he be willing to allow the hiring of lesbians since there is no prohibition against female homosexuality in either the Old or New Testament? Moreover, since Councilman Hurley believes that even activities which are legal may carry city sanctions, is he prepared to propose legislation prohibiting the hiring of adulterers, fornicators, or those who covet they neighbor’s wife or goods? How about those that fail to honor thy father and mother? Surely individuals with such questionable morals should also be prohibited from working for the City of Akron. Of course, should Councilman Hurley do that, one wonders who would remain to provide any city services.

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