Fairness ordinance creator threatened
BATON ROUGE - East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle had trouble sleeping this weekend after she received what she described as a threatening letter in her mailbox Friday. Marcelle plans to turn the letter over to police.
It was sent from someone who identified themself as "Jack-in-a-box."
The Fairness Ordinance was proposed by Marcelle to prohibit discrimination against gays in the workplace and when it comes to housing. Two weeks ago the metro council exceeded the time limit to vote on the issue. Now, they are set to take up the issue this week.
"If you don't agree with me, that's one thing," Marcelle said. "To threaten me, that's another."
The letter says, "Beware of motives cloaked in words. Fairness ordinance. Be careful and consider your vote."
"If you actually are a concerned citizen and you don't mean any harm, than why wouldn't you use your real name instead of signing the postcard 'Jack in the box,'" Marcelle said.
Council members Buddy Amoroso and Chauna Banks-Daniel can't believe someone would send a letter like this through the mail.
"I think it's terrible," Amoroso said. "Who writes that type of threat? I think they deserve to be prosecuted."
"I think anyone who would write such a letter is sick," Banks-Daniel said.
Both Amoroso and Banks-Daniel plan to vote against the ordinance for very different reasons. Amoroso is worried about business.
"I think there is potential for lawsuits and abuse," Amoroso said. "It's not a well-written ordinance so I will be voting against it."
Banks-Daniel claims she hasn't seen any facts to show that gays are targets of discrimination.
"There's no statistical data to see how many people per capita would be affected as it relates to sexual identity and orientation," Banks-Daniel said. "I know many people who may identify as being lesbian. The next day they identify as heterosexual."
As council members get ready to take up this contentious issue, Marcelle had this message for the person who caused her to lose sleep over the weekend.
"You have the right to believe whatever you want to believe and I have the right to believe what I want to believe, but when you start or attempt to intimidate me that's a real problem," Marcelle said.
The council is scheduled to take up this issue at 4 p.m. Wednesday. News 2 polled the council members and found at least seven who said they will vote against the ordinance. If they don't change their minds, the measure will fail Wednesday night.