News from Patrick Flynn

Equal rights Q&A

As those who follow the news are aware, there is now an organized campaign against the proposed ordinance that would grant equal rights to gay and lesbian residents of Anchorage.  As I’ve stated before, I expect those with whom I disagree to do so based on their personal beliefs and I consider it inappropriate to belittle or condemn their points of view.  Their concerns do deserve answers, however, so here’s a start:

Wanted to pose two quick questions. Do you have any real life statistics of gays or lesbians here in Anchorage who have been denied loans, jobs or places to live based on their sexual orientation ? and Do you believe that the owners of Mad Myrna’s, a gay bar downtown, should have the right to refuse to hire someone who applies for a bartender job if they walk into the interview with an “Exodus International” or “Love Won Out” t-shirt on ? Both of these groups are ministries that work with gay, lesbian and transgendered people who are trying to move away from a lifestyle they are no longer comfortable with. Hope to hear back from you.

Jim Minnery – President
Alaska Family Council

Mr. Minnery raises two very good points.  Regarding the former the answer is no, I don’t have any real life Anchorage statistics of gays & lesbians being discriminated against because they don’t exist.  If a gay or lesbian were discriminated against in our community to what statistic-tracking agency would they complain?  To the best of my knowledge there is no local, state or federal redress based on sexual orientation so, while I prefer to make decisions based on empirical data, in this instance I have to rely on the anecdotal evidence I receive via personal stories, e-mails, phone calls, blog posts and the like.  And there is plenty there.  As an example, here’s an excerpt from an e-mail:

My landlord is a [affiliation withheld].  He is also the only person in the world to whom I am in the closet.  He has told me in no uncertain terms that he is biased and he is proud of it, and he would never rent to a fag.  Stands to reason if he finds out about my story, I will be thrown out.

On the latter point I believe any employer should have the right to decline to hire an employee that will not do an adequate job furthering the company’s mission.  Prior to Mr. Minnery’s post I’d never heard of either organization he mentions but if an owner of Mad Myrna’s encountered the situation he describes I believe they would have the right to not hire the individual in question.  Similarly:

  • A manager for a synagogue should not have to hire an applicant with swastikas on his or her clothing,
  • A NAACP manager should not have to hire an individual adorned with aryan brotherhood symbols,
  • An Exxon manager should not have to hire someone wearing an Earth Liberation Front hat, and
  • A bank manager should not have to hire a loan officer candidate interviewing in shorts and flip-flops.

And guess what?  None of those decisions would be related to sexual orientation, religion, race, the environment or the Community Reinvestment Act.  I’ve hired a lot of people in my professional life, and interviewed many, many more.  Any job applicant who demonstrates ignorance of a potential employer’s mission, as the above examples did, clearly does not merit an offer of employment.  But all that is beside the point – the Anchorage Equal Rights code does not establish an affirmative right to housing, education or employment; rather it restrains others from denying access to those essential needs.  And even if someone is denied access they have to prove the reason relates to “race, religion, age, sex, color, national origin, marital status, or physical disability” (as the current code reads).  Further, employers always have the right to impose codes of conduct, dress codes and other standards that employees must follow.

Here’s another question, posed by Dan Fagan:

…if a government bureaucrat were able to determine whether someone denied a potential tenant housing because he or she is gay, a bigger question must be asked: should that be illegal?

What if, for example, a young couple with young children buys a two-unit condo, live in one side and rent out the other. What if the couple decides they don’t want a gay couple living next door because they don’t want to expose their young children to that lifestyle? Does that decision make the couple homophobic, evil, or haters of gay people? Or is the young couple simply trying to avoid questions like why were Bob and Steve kissing in the front yard?

Another interesting point, but apparently rendered moot by the Fair Housing Act.  Under that federal legislation the owner an owner-occupied home, duplex, triplex or four-plex has the right to use any criteria they wish in determining to whom they will rent.

A more general concern, one I discussed with Dr. Jerry Prevo earlier this week, is whether the rights of gays & lesbians should be secondary to the right of people to exercise their belief in opposition to homosexuality.  In other words, shouldn’t someone whose religion considers homosexuality a sin be able to decline to hire or rent a home to a gay or lesbian person?

This is a challenging question in that it appears to pit religious rights against those of sexual orientation.  If you follow the argument to its logical conclusion, however, one could claim their faith allows them to discriminate against those of another gender, race or other differences.  That’s a slippery slope upon which I am unwilling to tread.  I do feel that religious institutions should be able to discriminate, and both the current and proposed code allow for that.

Finally, some people believe that homosexuality is a choice.

While debate remains about whether a person is “born gay,” it is clear that some people are gay.  And a homosexual person could suppress their sexuality just as a heterosexual could but, in the end, one is still gay and the other still straight.  So, while it’s fair to recognize that one certainly cannot choose one’s race or gender, we must also acknowledge that there are choices, to varying degrees, that currently qualify for Equal Rights protections – marital status, for example.

As I said above and to Dr. Prevo, I do not wish to demonize those with whom I disagree.  If there are suggestions about language changes in the current version of the equal rights ordinance – Dr. Prevo had one – I’m willing to consider them.  What’s most important to me is a thoughtful, respectful debate.



This contribution was made on Friday, 29. May 2009 at 02:45 and was published under the category Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Well put Patrick. Perhaps you could answer me this question. Why does Rev Prevo refer to himself as Doctor. Is he an M.D. In most caseds people with Doctorates do not tefer to themselves as Doctor, and neither do we. I think in this particular case it is rather insidious in that it disquises his role as a extremist religious leader (ok I guess he blew his cover a long time ago) but even more misleading the term doctor gives the impression that he is a man of science and therefore a reputable source of opinion in matters requiring empirical analysis.
    Maybe I am blowing this out of proportion but I for one refuse to call him Doctor, is no doctor. My Father was a minister with a Doctorate and he called himself (and so did everyone else) Reverend.

    Comment: Paul – 29. May 2009 @ 9:48 am

  2. Paul, according to “The Complete Book of Church Growth” (PDF file) by Elmer Towns, in a chapter originally written in 1975 about Prevo and ABT, Hyles Anderson College awarded a (honorary) Doctor of Divinity degree to Prevo in 1974. Although it was an honorary degree, the awarder, Dr. Jack Hyles, claimed it was the equivalent of an earned degree — essentially because of the work Prevo had done to that point to increase ABT’s membership. The info page about Prevo at the ABT website puts the date of that honorary DD degree in 1978. That page also says he got a DD from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in 1993 — I don’t know if he actually did any work there either or if it’s also an honorary — but according to some prelim research on the internet, most DDs in the U.S. are honorary degrees. Whereas in the U.K., a DD actually means that one has done academic work such as a work of theological scholarship to earn the degree.

    I don’t tend to call Prevo Doctor either, on the basis of honorary degrees — I might be persuaded to if I can see he actually did the work that a truly earned academic degree requires. If he didn’t… well.

    But as someone who works in an academic and research unit at UAA (the Justice Center), I can assure you that it is common practice for people who have earned Ph.D.’s to be addressed as “Dr.” But the profs where I work actually did the works of scholarship necessary to earn those degrees. (People who have earned law degrees, called the Juris Doctorate or J.D., however, are NOT typically addressed as “Dr.” The two profs we have who have J.D.s are addressed as “Professor.”)

    Comment: Mel Green – 29. May 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  3. And in fact it seems that neither Hyles Anderson College nor Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary offer Doctor of Divinity degree programs. Which means that both degrees were honoraries.

    Comment: Mel Green – 29. May 2009 @ 9:10 pm

  4. Mr. Flynn,

    You are to be commended for taking the time to post your view on this blog. You mention that “prior to Mr. Minnery’s post I’d never heard of either organization he mentions”. In addition to those organizations, you could also check out

    NARTH is a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality. As an organization, we disseminate educational information, conduct and collect scientific research, promote effective therapeutic treatment, and provide referrals to those who seek our assistance. NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care and the right of professionals to offer that care.

    The last sentence of your blog was the most encouraging. If you truly value a thoughtful, respectful debate and are unfamiliar with organizations (sectarian and non-sect.) which exist to help gays who desire to leave the homosexual lifestyle, than you have yet to show you have engaged in thoughtful, respectful debate. Voting on the basis of a crowded, emotion-laden hearing is not give evidence that your practices are based on your values.

    Again, thank you for providing this format. Please vote your values, and vote against this ordinance until there HAS been a “thoughtful, respectful” public debate.

    Comment: Deanna – 08. June 2009 @ 11:39 am

  5. Mr. Flynn,

    Thank you so much for the excellent post. Your point about religious organizations claiming the right to discriminate was very well put, as was your point about the “gay is a choice” argument. Overall, you seem to be passionate about equality and honest dialogue, which bodes very well for the future of Anchorage.

    Comment: Hannah – 09. June 2009 @ 6:57 pm

  6. The problem with your examples about Exxon, the NAACP, or Earth Liberation Front is the assumption that just because these have nothing to do with sexual preferences illustrates that there are no illustrations that have to do deal with sexual preferences. What if the rentor / neighbor or potential employee at a day care center or applicant at Chuck E. Cheese was wearing a NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) t-shirt? What about a t-shirt representing BashBack, a militant pro-homosexual group? Would you hire a known sex offender to care for your young children while you are at work? ALL of these have to do with sexual conduct.

    By making behavior a civil rights issue you open the door for any other deviant behavior being the basis for civil rights protection.

    If you base their protected class on their behavior, what is to keep pedophiles or child pornographers or NAMBLA members from petitioning their local governing bodies for protection based on their behavior? Never happen? Who would have ever thought, 50 years ago, that we would be having this discussion about homosexuality today? Now extrapolate that 50 years into the future and tell me what doors will be open then?

    Human behavior should never be the basis for civil rights protection because of the Pandor’s Box that it opens.

    Comment: web – 10. June 2009 @ 9:31 am

  7. When two adults love each other, it should never be labeled as deviant.

    If you cannot tell the difference between two adults expressing feelings for each other and pedophiles, you have a lot to learn about human nature, and what it means to be a consenting adult.

    Comment: Doug – 16. June 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  8. […] Equal Rights Q&A (Patrick Flynn’s Blog — Patrick Flynn, Anchorage […]

    Pingback: Words for Equality | Bent Alaska – 27. May 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  9. Deviant–departing from the norm. Much to the chagrin of the pro-homosexual movement, same sex sex (what was being referenced, not love) is still not the norm.

    Comment: John – 01. December 2014 @ 11:09 pm

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