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This Texas mayor delivered an incredible speech backing an equal rights law

Nick Duffy December 15, 2014

A mayor in the city of Plano, Texas has delivered an impassioned speech in support of rights for same-sex couples.

The city council was meeting last week to discuss an Equal Right Policy – which outlaws discrimination in employment, business and housing based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Democratic mayor Harry LaRosiliere delivered a rousing speech in support of the policy, in the face of opposition from Christian anti-gay groups.

He said: “I’ve heard a number of questions and arguments have been raised and before I have council speak, I do want to note a few points. Some of the most common things I’ve heard is, why?

“Why are we doing this? Why now? What’s the problem we are trying to fix? What’s the solution trying to find a problem?

“The simple answer is, providing equal rights to everyone is the right thing to do. That’s why. The issue of equality is a basic human rights issue. And the choice for some people to focus this on a person’s sexuality is conflating the issue.

“A person’s sexual and moral issues that you’ve decided to be ‘not right’, is secondary to the fact that all Plano citizens and residents should be treated in a non-discriminatory manner for housing, employment and delivery of services.

“So, I’ll ask you the question, council, I’ll ask you the chamber, I’ll ask anybody watching–-tell me the appropriate time to do the right thing.

“In 1865, if we chose to rescind the notion that a black person was three-fifths of a human being, the question would be–why are we doing this now? If we spoke in 1919 to allow women to vote, the question would be–why are you oppressing me and making me subject to his now?

“If we are against the practice in New York City in the early 20th century, when the windows were filled with help wanted, but no Irish need to apply.

“If we tried to write that, why now? Why would we be doing that now? If we looked to stop segregation, that led to common practice in the south, where African-American families went through the back door for their children–to a veterinarian’s office to get healthcare–you’d say what’s the problem we are trying to fix?

“And finally, if we looked to write an ordinance to ban unfair housing practice that was written in covenants in California in the 1950s, that was discriminatory against Jewish-Americans, we’d say–what’s wrong with what’s going on? Why are we doing this now?

“So, those are solutions looking for problems. Where those businesses forced to go past their morals? Frankly, the question is not why now–it’s what took us so long? That’s really what the question is.

“The question is, that we have peers, peers in the state of Texas, and our peers are not necessarily our neighbours, our peers are the top 10 cities in Texas, we are the ninth largest city in Texas. Dallas, Ft Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus, Austin and El Paso all have ordinances similar or parts of this that address these issues.

“So, we are by no means even being leaders. We are being followers. This is Plano, the city of excellence. History is full of examples of leaders that lead and others that follow. And the arc of history tells us that leaders are the visionaries.

“It was a wise man that once said, ‘if I am not for myself, then who will be for me? If I am not for others, than what am I? And if not now, then when?’

“Council, this is our now. To make a decision as to whether we think everyone in Plano – the city of excellence – is afforded the opportunity to be treated 100 percent like they belong. One hundred percent.”

The law eventually passed by a vote of 5-3.

Watch the speech via the Dallas Observer (starts at 3 minutes):

More: Equality, Gay, mayor, Ordinance, Plano, Rights, speech, Texas, US

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