Metro Councilman John Delgado’s recent passionate advocacy for a parishwide antidiscrimination ordinance has brought a welcome energy and urgency to a subject that has often been a source of frustration in this city.
Councilman Delgado is entirely right to insist that Baton Rouge should ensure that all of its citizens have access to the basic components of participation in civil society: equal employment opportunities, fair and affordable housing, the opportunity to responsibly use credit and other consumer loans, and equal access to businesses that offer goods or services to the general public.
The truth is that residents of this great city and state — and people all over the country — overwhelmingly agree that fair treatment for all people is a core American value. Nearly three-quarters of Americans consistently support laws that provide protections against discrimination in the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Our commitment to this basic value of fairness is so strong that an even larger majority of Americans think that the law already guarantees these protections, because it’s that inconceivable to us that we would somehow leave our LGBT neighbors behind.
In Baton Rouge, though, very few local laws exist that provide protections to anyone, LGBT or not. There is no city ordinance that protect anyone’s rights to patronize businesses, no ordinance that prevents people from being denied a job because of the color of their skin or because of whom they love, and no ordinances that affirm anyone’s access to credit and lending no matter their gender. A confusing patchwork of state and federal laws grants some of these protections to some people in some circumstances, but more needs to be done at every level, including downtown in the Metro Council chamber, to ensure that the promise of equal opportunity is fulfilled.
It’s time for us as a city to leave no doubt that we stand for fairness for all. In a democratic society, enacting these kinds of protections into law is how we turn the abstract ideal of fairness into a concrete reality.
Baton Rouge should be a place where the law protects all people against discrimination, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, veteran’s status or any other characteristic that has no bearing on their inherent dignity and worth as a human being.
As a civic organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for LGBT people in Baton Rouge, Capital City Alliance is dedicated to building a better city for all of our friends, family and neighbors, and we urge you to join us in helping Baton Rouge live up to its values of fair treatment for all.
Matthew Patterson, board member
Capital City Alliance