Commentary: Fort Worth can't afford to avoid gay rights issues

The true measure of the Fort Worth City Council's response to recommendations from the Diversity Task Force won't be taken from what it does today. Tough as those decisions will be, they are only the relatively easy ones.

City Manager Dale Fisseler created the task force in July, responding to issues raised by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, Fort Worth residents after the June 28 police raid at the Rainbow Lounge, a south-side gay bar.

But the action to be considered by the council at its 7 p.m. meeting has been studied by the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission since February.

Simply stated, the commission will ask the council to approve ordinance amendments to prohibit discrimination in places of accommodation, employment and housing based on transgender characteristics, gender expression or gender identity.

In reality, that's not so simple. It affords protected status to people whose gender has been surgically changed or who live in accordance with the gender other than the one to which they were born. To some people, this behavior is bizarre, even reprehensible; to some it is an affront to deeply held religious convictions.

The new ordinance would afford the same protection against discrimination as that based on race, religion or sex. Fort Worth has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation (gay, lesbian or bisexual) since 2000.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.