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Congratulations to Pamela Raintree
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 01/18/14
Last updated on: 01/18/14
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Congratulations to Pamela Raintree, a transgender woman who brilliantly challenged a homophobic councilman in Shreveport, Louisiana on January 14, 2014. The confrontation came after the councilman attempted to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance and it offers a wonderful example of how to deal with religious-based homophobia.

Shreveport, Louisiana has a reputation as one of the most conservative cities in the country. Located in north Louisiana, near the Texas border, the city is overwhelmingly Southern Baptist and Republican. However, there has lately been some movement toward a greater inclusiveness, perhaps inspired by the city's attempt to attract lucrative film projects.

To burnish its new image as a more accepting and diverse community, Shreveport recently adopted a "fairness" ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The adoption of the ordinance makes Shreveport only the second city in Louisiana--after New Orleans--to enact protections for its glbtq citizens. Whereas New Orleans adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance providing protections on the basis of sexual orientation in 1991 and on the basis of gender identity in 1998, attempts to adopt similar ordinances in Baton Rouge and Lafayette have repeatedly failed.

The ordinance, sponsored by a pro-glbtq coalition known as "Be Fair Shreveport," was passed by the City Council in December on a 6-1 vote.

Despite the overwhelming vote, City Councilman Ron Webb, the lone dissenter, did not give up. Instead, he threatened a referendum on the measure and attempted to repeal it. He told his colleagues that "The Bible tells you homosexuals are an abomination," and proudly stated that he does not socialize with glbtq people.

At the City Council meeting on January 14, when Councilman Webb's proposal was to be considered, dozens of people registered to speak out against it.

Among them was Pamela Raintree, a transgender woman who was not afraid to confront the Councilman on his own terms.

Holding a stone in her hand, Ms. Raintree quoted the passage that Webb had cited at the previous council meeting and asked if he had the courage of his convictions.

"Leviticus 20:13 states, 'If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death,'" Raintree began, and--evoking Jesus's injunction, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," added "I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn't just a smoke screen for personal prejudices."

Webb withdrew his repeal measure just minutes later, without calling for a vote.

The brilliance of Pamela Raintree's confrontation is that it turns the table on bigots who use the Bible to attack others and raises the crucial question of whether their "Bible talk" isn't just a smokescreen for their personal prejudices.

Thanks to the Advocate for calling attention to the video below and thanks to Pamela Raintree for so powerfully calling out the hypocrisy of Shreveport Councilman Ron Webb.

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