In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality last month, city council members in Pasco, WA are considering a resolution proposed by Councilman Bob Hoffman that would enable business owners in the city to use their religion as a weapon against others. (Read about it in this Tri-City Herald article.)
The resolution mirrors that of one put forth by Councilman John Trumbo inthe neighboring city of Kennewick one month ago. The “Resolution affirming Freedom of Conscience” is based on one drafted by the Family Policy Institute of Washington, an organization with ties to Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal team defending the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, who lost in court when a judge determined she had violated Washington’s consumer protections laws when she refused to sell flowers for the wedding of Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll.
Speaking about “businesses in our community [being] forced by the attorney general to have compelled artistic expressions” Councilman Hoffman said, “I think the consensus of our community, if you talk to a bunch of people and the votes in our area, is that this is not something we want and this is simply expressing the region’s take on this issue, and I think it’s important to make a public statement to that effect.”
We encourage any who live in the Tri-City area and beyond to email or call the city council members to let them know that there are, in fact, many of their constituents who do not share their arrogant and divisive views.
There should be no special accommodations for the religious when it infringes on the rights of others!
Contact info for the council members:
Mayor Matt Watkins, email@example.com, (509) 416-6696
Mayor Pro-Tem Rebecca Francik, firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 545-6134
Councilmember Al Yenney, email@example.com, (509) 547-8021
Councilmember Mike Garrison, firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 545-3404
Councilmember Bob Hoffmann, email@example.com, (509) 547-7373
Councilmember Saul Martinez, firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 547-7285
Councilmember Tom Larsen, email@example.com, (509) 545-9916
The following email was sent by Tri-City Freethinkers president, Jennifer Goulet.
Dear City of Pasco Council Members,
As a community leader and long-time voting resident of Pasco, I strongly urge you to abandon the foolish and embarrassing “Resolution affirming Freedom of Conscience” proposed by Councilman Bob Hoffman, which seeks to privilege religion by elevating the rights of religious people above the rights of others to not be discriminated against in public accommodations. With few exceptions, the courts at every level have found that anti-discrimination laws have no bearing on individual religious beliefs.
Addressing Councilman Hoffman specifically, I would caution you to reexamine your belief that “the consensus of our community, if you talk to a bunch of people and the votes in our area, is that this is not something we want and this is simply expressing the region’s take on this issue.” Many of your constituents, religious and nonreligious alike, do not share such arrogant and divisive views. Many of your constituents, whom you have been elected to represent, are appalled by the use of religious freedom as a weapon to tread on the rights of others. Many of your constituents view your attempt to pander to a religious base in such a way as a blight on our community’s reputation.
To the other council members, I am disappointed that any of you would consider adding this resolution to the agenda. Councilman Hoffman’s suggestion should have been immediately dismissed as legally dubious, selfish, irresponsible, and inhumane.
Discrimination, for any reason, is bad for business, bad for communities, and bad for human beings—especially those whom Hoffman and his ilk so callously disregard as second-class citizens.
Should you choose to adopt this resolution, know that your action will not go unchallenged and the legal and financial repercussions of your decision for our city will be on your heads.
Jennifer Goulet, President