Breck to vote on sexual orientation clause
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE ” Breckenridge’s town council meeting tonight will allow citizens to voice their opinions regarding an ordinance that would include sexual orientation among the items against which people cannot be discriminated.
Michelle Hoffman of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) expects lots of people to attend. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers of town hall.
“I think Breckenridge is committed to doing the right thing,” she said. “We have worked on this for so long, I don’t want to take anything for granted. We want to show our support for their willingness to make some tough decisions.”
The council will consider the ordinance on second reading. It approved the ordinance on first reading late last month, although the issue has generated a bit of controversy. Opponents have said it could put the town at financial risk. The ordinance caps any liability at $200,000 plus attorney fees.
One of the most vocal opponents at last month’s town council meeting was Dr. Bill Bolthouse of Breckenridge, a retired family doctor. He said courts have ruled that civil rights protections are reserved for truly disadvantaged, politically powerless and distinct minorities, and the gay and lesbian community are not victims of widespread oppression or discrimination as defined by the court.
As a physician, he said he has not found evidence that homosexuality is completely genetic.
“I agree that civil rights are for everybody, but the reason we have statutes like these are usually because they’re correcting a wrong from the past,” Bolthouse said. “Our sexual orientations are a complex formation that does involve genetics, but it also involves upbringing. (Research) has not found a single genetic entity that defines homosexuality.”
Bolthouse, a member of the Christian Physicians and Dental Association, said he is not a homophobe, and believes the town is pursuing the issue because of political loyalties and not because it’s worried about workplace discrimination practices.
“The town isn’t deciding on the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality,” he said. “It’s asking, ‘Do we accommodate certain classes of people in a special way?’ On the face of it, it seems like a reasonable, progressive thing to do. My feeling is that it’s not necessary. We’re better off leaving it out. It’s not a good idea.”
“He’s entitled to his opinion,” said Mayor Ernie Blake, who plans to vote for the ordinance. “But it’s obviously not the view of the community.”
Councilmembers Rob Millisor, Jeffrey Bergeron and Jim Lamb also have spoken strongly in favor of the ordinance.
“We shouldn’t be discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation, plain and simple,” Lamb said, adding that he believes the perceived liability is not that great. “Perhaps it exposes us a little bit, but I’m not worried because I have enough faith in the people who work for the town of Breckenridge that they’re not going to exhibit any discrimination for sexual orientation. This sort of thing just isn’t going to happen. If we did discriminate against people for their sexual orientation, their race, religion, we should be sued.”
“I’m for it, way for it,” Bergeron said. “I think (Bolthouse) was well-intentioned, but his arguments didn’t sway me in the least. It’s not a big deal, it’s not going to cost us anything; it’s just the right thing to do.”
Councilmember Eric Mamula said he, too, plans to vote for the ordinance.
“I’m going to support the council’s decision,” he said. “The majority of the council is adamantly for it.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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