Heroes, like angels, are all around us. Sometimes they are one and the same.
Am I talking about veterans? They would fit the bill, but no.
Parents and grandparents? Again, easy choices, but again, no.
Pastors? Teachers? Mentors? Firefighters? Police officers? No on all accounts.
Let me introduce you to Lance Berkman — not for the career he had on the baseball field at Rice University or with the Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals or New York Yankees. No, I want to introduce you to the man Berkman has become since hanging up the leather.
Berkman has become the voice of reason, logic and clarity as a resident of Houston, where he is the head baseball coach at Second Baptist Univerity High. He has been out in front of an effort to keep a contyroversial Houston equal rights ordinance from being enacted — and he has been getting personal attacks because of it from none other than Houston’s openly gay Mayor Annise Parker.
Last May, the Houston City Council voted 11-6 to approve the ordinance for the city. The ordinance — known as the acronym HERO by proponents — amended Chapters 2, 15 and 17 of Houston’s Code of Ordinances, prohibiting discrimination in public facilities and private employment on the basis of “protected characteristics.”
This list of protected characteristics included race, color, ethnicity, sex, national origin, age, familial and marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity.
On the surface, it sounds like a relatively innocent and worthwhile ordinance. But it’s not, and Berkman hasn’t been shy about telling folks why.
“I’m against depriving anybody of their civil rights, but by the same token the ordinance was so poorly-written,” Berkman has said. “First of all, as a Christian I felt that I had an obligation to stand for what is righ. I am about articulating my belief system and taking a stand for it when I have the opportunity.”
Berkman also said it is a shame that “it seems like anybody who has an opinion that comes more from right immediately gets castigated, called a bigot, by voicing that opinion.”
As part of an ad produced by the Campaign for Houston, which opposed the ordinance, Berkman said: “No men in women’s bathrooms. No boys in girls’ showers or locker rooms. I played professional baseball for 15 years, but my family is more important. My wife and I have four daughters. Proposition 1, the bathroom ordinance, would allow troubled men to enter women’s public bathrooms, showers and locker rooms. This would violate their privacy and put them in harm’s way.”
Texas Values Action turned in an estimated 50,000 signatures to repeal the ordinance, well above the 17,269 required. And last Tuesday, voters in Houston defeated the ordinance by more than a 2-1 margin.
That’s when the mayor got malicious.
“When Lance Berkman went from NYC to STL to play ball did he do it to escape NYCs scary nondiscrimination law?” Parker tweeted on Twitter. In another one, she wrote: “Then Lance Berkman went to Dallas. Oops. Dallas amended its charter to clarify gender identity protections. Can you spell hypocrite?” Also: “Lance Berkman played in St. Louis. Guess his girls didn’t go to his games! SL has a non-discrimination ordinance.”
On her Facebook page, Parker added: “That someone who made his name in our city would inject himself into this debate by taking to the airwaves to discredit an effort to ban discrimination in all forms did upset me. This ordinance protects all Houstonians and his remarks diminished it to something trivial.”
Here’s the bottom line: When Christians believe something goes against God’s word, they fight the issue and not attack the person. When those who want to push the envelope on perverted issues, they attack the person with sacrcasm and name-calling because they can’t rightly defend the issue.
People of Parker’s ilk can tell us all they want that times have changed, but the fact of the matter is that God’s word has not. His word has been the same, is the same and wlil be the same always, which certainly means that what was once considered wrong within the pages of the Bible is still considered wrong by God. If the path these folks choose is a lifelong journey to the Lake of Fire, so be it. But expecting the world to embrace their journey and label it accepotable is nothing short of blasphemous.
Berkman and Christians like him aren’t interested in tearing people down or calling them names or attacking their friends and families. Instead, they only want to fight against issues that allow evil a foothold in our society and to assist those troubled individuals with an eye toward godly rehabilitation if they will allow it.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, who leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, applauded the ordinance’s defeat and Berkman for his part.
“This outrageous referendum would’ve left women’s restrooms wide open to registered male sex offenders and other sexual predators,” wrote Graham on his Facebook page. “In spite of high-profile endorsements from the White House, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and Houston’s gay activist mayor — this outrageous referendum lost. That’s a victory and great news for Houston!
“I applaud those who worked so hard to oppose this proposition … and everyone who took a stand and voted NO. Voters and leaders at all levels across America need to take note that these battles are worth fighting for the sake of the future of our nation,” Graham also wrote.
Berkman is a hero, indeed.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.