Democratic County Councilwoman, Hazel Erby, is African-American and therefore, not surprisingly, opposed to discrimination–except when she is practicing it herself.
Post-Dispatch reporter, Clay Barbour, broke the story almost two weeks ago about the attempt by the County Council to add gay and transgendered people to the list of those protected by county statute from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation. The measure had been expected to pass along party lines, but at the last moment, Councilwoman Erby balked and voted no, creating a three-three tie.
Charlie Dooley sympathized with the gay community on this one, but was not sure how he could help since he was not involved in the voting. He recommended that the measure’s backers, who are quietly trying to revive it, continue to lobby the council members.
Councilwoman Erby–my own council member–said, after the vote:
“I’m totally against discrimination of any kind, but I don’t compare being bisexual or transgender with being African-American,” she said. “I don’t think it’s right that you can hire a man one day and the next day he shows up as a woman.”
Lest you think that Erby’s reaction typified the black community, hear what The St. Louis American’s Political Eye thought of her vote:
This quote is bound for the St. Louis American’s year-end wrap-up as one of the most ignorant and insensitive things said by a local elected official, right up there with Alderman Stephen Gregali’s infamous notion that racial politics in St. Louis is nothing more than crybaby black people whining when they don’t get their way.
21st Century to Erby: You look exactly like the rednecks who turned power hoses and attack dogs on civil rights marchers. Gay, bisexual and transgendered people (of any color) are fully as human as African Americans, and fully as deserving of equal protection under the law.
Actually, since Erby was torn about the vote, she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would turn a power hose on anyone. She’s just part of a generation more likely to judge gays harshly. Possibly, she’s capable of deciding to show more compassion.
Perhaps I’ll find out. I’ve left a message at her office asking her to call me.