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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Smart Bombs: Who shall overcome equality?

After the Coeur d’Alene City Council voted to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance that protects gay and transgendered citizens, Pastor Stuart Bryan of Trinity Church said he would advise parishioners to follow their consciences and break what he calls an unjust law.

Easy for him to say. He wouldn’t be the one paying a $1,000 fine or spending up to six months in jail.

Come to think of it, I haven’t heard of anyone who has overtly paid a price to defend this apparently cherished right to discriminate. There is a florist in Richland who is being sued for refusing service to a gay couple, but it wasn’t her idea to go public.

These human rights protections have been on the books for several years in other communities, and now Coeur d’Alene is one of them. It’s the perfect opportunity to emulate a man of the cloth, like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., rather than capitulate to an “immoral” law. A fundamentalist pastor could raise an illegal ruckus and get arrested. Then he could write an essay on scraps of paper – “Letter from a Coeur d’Alene Jail” – to inspire others to join the cause of discrimination.

So when will this occur? King showed his commitment to equal rights by marching, protesting and enduring arrests. He ultimately died for the cause. Where are the deeds of deacons dedicated to discrimination?

Bryan and others speak passionately in defending the right to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgendered people because, they say, homosexuality is a sin. Whether these religious leaders would back the right to discriminate against other sinners, such as adulterers and premarital fornicators, is unclear, because the fight is always over homosexuality.

Where are the efforts to lend moral support to bosses and landlords who want to defend the entire Bible with the righteous weapon of discrimination?

Pastor Paul Van Noy of Candlelight Christian Fellowship made it clear to the City Council that this was not a matter of homophobia. Instead, it’s a genuine, heartfelt, soul-searching quest to save the sinners. How denying them homes or jobs helps them is beyond my limited knowledge of religious compassion. Love the sinner while kicking him to the curb, or something like that.

Anyway, it just so happens that the behavior this time is homosexuality. Next time – who knows? – it could be opposite-sex lust or even hypocrisy. Except it never is about that. It’s always this. For whatever reason, homosexuality sticks deepest in the craw and arouses the desire to discriminate.

Hence the need to pass an ordinance.

As You Like It. A recent article about student loan rates noted that while votes were taken on Republican and Democratic plans, both moves were seen as political theater, because neither proposal was expected to pass. Now, an outsider might wonder, why bother? But not Congress, where the play’s not only the thing, it’s everything.

Members of Congress, it seems, are so busy scribbling scripts, inventing drama and putting on a show, they’ve forgotten their real-life roles. So they haul an Apple executive before them and grill him about using tax loopholes of their own making. They fume and fulminate against the government tracking phone calls while ignoring the votes that made it legal. They pummel the Internal Revenue Service for the way it investigated whether obviously political players were engaged in politics, while ignoring who set that cynical stage.

In a clever variation of this intentional amnesia, they abdicate their role in declaring wars, and then haul civilian and military commanders before them for accountability.

They must think us dumb. They must think, “What fools these mortals be.”

Then they head back home. And get re-elected.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.