While doing my daily glance over the local newspaper, my gaze stopped dead on this front page article.


Language at gay civil rights forum at issue

Some call the language used by opponents threatening and abusive.

Barb White’s voice broke and as she addressed Tuesday’s forum on a proposed gay civil rights ordinance for Flagstaff.

“I’ve walked the streets of Flagstaff and I don’t feel in danger of harassment, “White said. “I am terrified right now by the intolerance that I am hearing in this room. If there is a better argument for the need for this ordinance to protect my right to be a lesbian and not to be called morally … disgusting, I can’t think of what it is.” More than 100 residents, including White, crammed into a meeting room at the Radisson Woodlands Hotel for the forum, which was being held by the city’s Diversity Awareness Commission. The proposal seeks to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of civil rights that are protected in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations and education.

Pastor Steven Cole, the pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship, said the ordinance would force him to accept a lifestyle he was not morally comfortable with.

“My concern with the ordinance, which I am strongly opposed to, is that it legitimizes what I view biblically as immorality and it gives it the status of special rights the rest of us do not have,” Cole said.

He said he believed homosexuality to be a choice and was unaware of any scientific test proving otherwise.

“Even if it were, it is not right to legitimize a person’s morality and force it on the rest of us who believe it to be immoral,” Cole said. “What if they proved that rapists had high testosterone, would we legitimize rape? I hope not.”

Lisa Rayner, the political chair of Equality Arizona’s Flagstaff Equality Team, said she was disappointed with how the forum was handled by the commission, which consists of citizen volunteers and city staff.

“The experience was abusive. I have never in my life experienced such a repulsive and frightening public meeting,” Rayner wrote in an e-mail. “There was little ability to hold a rational discussion about the ordinance.”

Added Rayner: “The facilitator never stepped in to stop the personal attacks upon the LGBT community. People will not attend public meetings if they know that they will be treated abusively.”


Pastor Jim Dorman, senior pastor for Christ’s Church of Flagstaff, said he just doesn’t believe the ordinance is warranted in Flagstaff.

“My struggle is here in the city, I am not finding the discrimination to the degree that elevates protected status as a solution,” Dorman said.

Dorman said he struggles with abiding by the laws contained in the Constitution while trying to follow the laws he sees in the Bible. He said he has gay friends and noted that some leaders of his church have gay children.

“I don’t know how Jesus would address this,” he said.

Dorman, along with several other members of the public, said they are worried that the ordinance would affect the hiring decisions of local churches and other religious-based organizations.

“I would tell you that results of similar ordinances like these lead to lawsuits,” Dorman told the crowd.


But Pastor Bill Guise of the First Congregational Church of Flagstaff gave an alternative Christian viewpoint to the ordinance, directly challenging previous statements from evangelical Christians quoting the Bible.

“There has been a lot of appeal to the Bible and a lot of appeal to religion and morality,” Guise said. “And I am here to say Christianity for one — and that is my field — is not a monolith. There are many, many, many religious people, and devoutly so, who deeply disagree with this naked religious bigotry against people of different sexual orientation and I am one of them.”

Guise said he understood the perspective of the evangelical Christians in the audience, saying he was raised in a conservative, fundamentalist family.

“Y’all going to hell, as far as they are concerned,” he said.

He said that after getting degrees in philosophy and theology, he couldn’t live with the apparent hypocrisy toward the LGBT community. He said many profess to love everyone but will condemn them for their sexual orientation.

“As a person of faith, I am alarmed and I am outraged that there are those who will say that because, in my opinion, you choose to be ‘x,’ I therefore stand in condemnation of you but I love you anyway,” Guise said.


The forum Tuesday night was the first of three set up by the commission to discuss the ordinance.

The two other scheduled forums will be held at Thomas Elementary School on Sept. 20 and at Flagstaff Athletic Club East on Oct. 1.

The Flagstaff City Council is expected to review the proposed ordinance later this fall after the commission has completed its own review and forwarded its comments to the council.

J. Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or jferguson@azdailysun.com.

On the Web

–Read the proposed Flagstaff ordinance as drafted by Equality Arizona here:


–Read Tucson’s current Civil Rights ordinance here:



Pardon me, did Pastor Cole link the protection of GLBT rights to the legitimization of rape?

“My concern with the ordinance, which I am strongly opposed to, is that it legitimizes what I view biblically as immorality and it gives it the status of special rights the rest of us do not have,” Cole said.

And what ever happened to the separation of church and state? Objections based entirely on religion are all that stand between the GLBT community and an equality of treatment. To make a statement comparatively extreme to that of Cole, granting the protection churches are asking for from what they view to be “morally offensive” is equivalent to denying rights to non-whites because a group of White Supremacists insists that it offends them morally. As a gay female, I’m sorry if my desire for the protection of my basic human rights offends you; self-blinded religious bigotry offends me!

Pastor Jim Dorman objects to this legislation because he feels that in Flagstaff he’s “not finding the discrimination to the degree that elevates protected status as a solution,” Well, our quiet little mountain town hasn’t had many problems with racial discrimination lately, why don’t we do away with that clause? Or is it that passing an addendum to the Ordinance is just too much trouble? Lets just wait until a major civil rights violation occurs and the city counsel has no way to protect the individual. If I may wax metaphorical, isn’t that like waiting until the boat’s sinking to see if the life preservers work, or even if they are in the boat?

Equality Arizona is not asking anyone to change what they believe in– all this change entails is a government protection against discrimination for sexuality, just as one exists for race, age, gender, or creed. Why should this simple proposal incur such a wave of abject hostility?

To quote the noted activist and pastor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” What will be denied us once the government bows to religion in this case? Will books be discretely removed from our libraries because they are deemed “morally offensive”? How about the media? The line must be drawn somewhere; we as a democracy can’t simply pick and choose which rights we will defend and which we’ll toss to the wayside. Acclimation to inequality is a dangerous game– it drugs our senses against what normally would horrify us. We need to wake up.




On an unrelated note, here’s a recipe for gluten-free pancakes as I made them this morning for our German Servas guests. I personally think these are as good, if not better than glutinous pancakes.


  • 1.5 cups gluten-free baking mix (1.5 cups AP flour + .5 tsp baking powder)
  • .5 cup milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • .5 tsp salt

Combine dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Add wet to dry, stirring only as much as is necessary to fully integrate the two. Cook quarter cup portions of the batter on a hot griddle until bubbles pop and stay open towards the center of the pancake. Flip and cook for another minute on the reversed side.

Serve with jam, syrup, and a healthy dose of moral indignation.