Fort Worth churchgoers urge city to overturn gay-friendly policies

FORT WORTH -- More than 100 people from local churches urged the City Council on Tuesday night to overturn some of the policies that the city adopted last year in the wake of protests after arrests at the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar on the near south side.

One patron was seriously injured during the "bar check" on June 28, 2009.

After weeks of protests by gay activists and sympathizers, city officials adopted several proposals recommended by a task force.

Among them were more training for employees and the appointment of a Police Department liaison to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Other proposals, such as extending health and retirement benefits to gay couples and covering sex reassignment surgery under the city's health insurance, are still being studied.

On Tuesday, speakers said the city went too far and didn't take their Christian beliefs into account.

"I believe the media and the GLBT community has distorted the facts of what happened on the night of the Rainbow Lounge to promote the homosexual agenda," said Richard Clough, a former candidate for county judge who is an associate minister at Kenneth Copeland's Eagle Mountain International Church.

Perfeto Esquibel, a minister at the Christian Worship Center of Fort Worth, said most of his congregation felt left out of the discussions.

"We're just finding out about it," he said.

Mayor Mike Moncrief said the city's response had broad support. Fort Worth is "a city of inclusion," he said.

Thomas Anable, who was at Rainbow Lounge on the night of the arrests, said the subsequent policy changes helped polish the city's image.

The attitude of the speakers Tuesday night "shows [city leaders are] still taking heat for doing the right thing," he said.

Mike Lee, 817-390-7539