Three fundamental concerns are driving the formation of the new citizens organization:
I. The negative impact of special rights initiatives on all businesses and property owners, with a particularly negative impact on faith- based and faith-inspired businesses and property owners.
II. The negative impact of special rights initiatives on every citizen's constitutionally protected rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly.
III. The negative impact of the practice of homosexuality on the individuals who practice it and on the rest of the society.
The main multifaceted emphasis of the group is to defend Traditional Marriage as 'between one man and one woman', to respond to the controversy at the University of Notre Dame regarding homosexual activism at several levels, to respond to 'special rights for homosexuals' ordinances as they come forward in the Region and to facilitate help and ministry for those suffering from the ill effects of the homosexual lifestyle.
Letter to South Bend Common CouncilJoseph P. Sergio, Ph.D.
South Bend, IN 46613
October 25, 2004
Ms. Charlotte Pfeifer
I am writing in response to a public request to gather information toward a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the ordinance governing the South Bend Human Rights Commission. While I assume that everyone is well intentioned, and I appreciate the concern for possible discrimination against anyone, I have deep concerns about the direction that is being taken and about the negative consequences of offering "special rights" based solely on someone’s private sexual behavior.
Most people recognize that discrimination with respect to treatment of individuals is wrong when based on immutable characteristics such as skin color and that have no bearing on an individual’s behavior. As such, the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress in 1964 to protect against this kind of discrimination.
Consistent with this, whenever a claim has been made in federal court that "sexual orientation" was a status similar to those classes protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the claims have been denied. As matter of fact, some cities have changed their City Charters to prevent their City Councils from passing ordinance provisions that grant "special rights" based on sexual orientation.
Surveys have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not see this as a civil rights issue, but view it as a moral issue, which places the South Bend City Common Council in the position of trying to legislate morality.
While the accusation of "discrimination" has long been fringe activists’ most effective tool, the decision to engage in homosexual behavior remains a matter of choice. If "special rights" were given to those who choose to engage in behavior peculiar to one’s self-described sexual orientation, in this case homosexuality, would we not be obliged to grant the same privileges to those who choose to engage in the behavior associated with any of the other known sexual orientations?" (In this regard, I have attached a list of other sexual orientations recognized by the American Psychological Association or by Therapists that may be of issue.)
By adding sexual orientation as a "special right" for what is arguably a chosen path, it undermines the First Amendment rights of individuals by placing the government in the role of supporting a philosophical viewpoint, with the weight of the law, over the majority of Americans. This is an ominous precedent.
The lethal, yet possibly unintended consequences of this public policy change would create an unreasonable and undo hardship on faith-based or faith inspired businesses, schools, churches, clubs, daycares, property owners, and employers, and is so impractical that it is likely to trigger an endless series of lawsuits both for and against.
This is an unresolved issue for our Nation that has become so contentious that our various branches of government are now grappling with State and Federal Constitutional Amendments to settle the issue. My opinion is that the South Bend City Council has neither the means nor the ability to reach a final solution on this matter. To attempt to do so will almost certainly lead to a public policy disaster.
Several major employers, as well as hundreds of small and medium sized employers would be impacted. Locally, the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees (several of whom are leaders of commerce in the United States) has already examined and rejected this notion, and when radical activists tried to hurt the Boy Scouts of America with this issue they lost overwhelmingly in the United States Congress.
I believe that action by the Council will create a major distraction for the Council, which at this time should be focusing on the many issues facing us, including the quality of our local school system, growing our local economy, and the heavy tax burden that continues to oppress all of us.
While the newspaper indicated that you are not receiving much opposition to this notion, I suspect that people who have not spoken out are concerned about the vocal activist lobby that is following these meetings. I have heard concern about one’s personal security, and about the potential of being targeted. I believe that there may be a concern about having legitimate, respectful and thoughtful objections being smeared into "homophobia" by those with differing opinions.
In summary, I strongly urge you to forgo any further effort to add ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ to the ordinance governing the South Bend Human Rights Commission. I support Equal Rights for all citizens, but not Special Rights.
Joseph P. Sergio, Ph.D., N.D. ’78, ‘87
Attachment: Sexual Orientations
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