UPDATE: Controversial Ordinance Sparks Heated Argument From Both Sides


POSTED: Friday, January 14, 2011 - 7:49pm

UPDATED: Friday, April 15, 2011 - 10:22am

EL PASO— A federal court has barred the city of El Paso from refusing health benefits to anyone.

The lawsuit, which was filed by several city employees, claims the ordinance is unconstitutional. Now a federal judge is barring the city from enforcing the ordinance in any way, including terminating or refusing any health policies with anyone because of the ordinance. 

"This is exactly what we were afraid of: an attorney giving a weak defense sabotaging the defense on purpose,” said Pastor Tom Brown. 

Pastor Tom Brown says he wasn't surprised by a judge's decision to overturn the controversial domestic partners ordinance. Brown believes the city wanted to lose, and says the judge didn't even listen to their side. 

"The judge already, I think before he got everything, made up his mind," said Brown. Brown was the main force behind the ordinance that endorsed tradition family values. 

After several weeks of debate in city council, voters passed it in November. 

That meant same sex couples and domestic partners of city employees would lose their health benefits. Inadvertently, some retirees and even judges were set to be cut off. 

"Just because the will of the people vote— it's our understanding that a lot of people didn't understand it— that doesn't mean it's constitutional,” said Lyda Ness-Garcia, from El Paso for Equality. Garcia fought against the ordinance. 

This week, her hard work paid off, after a federal judge barred the city from enforcing it. The judge called the ordinance unconstitutional and said people would suffer irreparable harm if they lost their benefits. He also said there was no clear definition for "traditional family values." And even if there was, he didn't see how taking away people's benefits helped promote it. 

"El Paso for Equality feels very vindicated, this is exactly what we've been saying, not only was Tom Brown promoting hateful agenda which is unconstitutional, it's also an illegal agenda,” said Garcia. 

Brown denied he was trying to single out homosexuals from getting benefits. He says as a minister it's his job to spread the word, and if it meant taking away health benefits to do that, then so be it. 

"To take away benefits will cause them to say, 'wait, wait, this is not right...' it makes them say 'wait a minute, maybe what I'm doing is wrong,'” said Brown. 

That's an argument Garcia simply can't understand. 

"This isn't something about morality, these are people's lives. people could die and people could suffer severe medical harm,” said Garcia. 

Comments News Comments

The way Brown presented his agenda on the ballot it was (deliberately?) confusing. The wording was confusing and many I spoke to said they ended up voting opposite of what they intended so I have to question the validity of the vote representing "the will of the people". Brown doesn't get it. You can pass an ordinance or a law that gets overturned if it is unconstitutional. Look at Arizona's immigration law. What if the ballot was passed but it was to deny other minorities eg black/Asian/Hisp?

Even if you don't believe that this is a human rights issue - which it is - the minimal cost of providing health care for folks who have demonstrated a sincere commitment to another person is financially smart. Who do you think pays for the uninsured when they come to our hospitals? It is just and it right and it makes plain financial sense.

Well Ignorance is truly bliss. I believe that we live in a great nation that promises all people, all races, all creeds equality. The issue of homosexuality is an open platform for criticism when put out there in society and in the media flamboyantly expressing a life style. The problem now is that people are afraid to stand for what is right and what is just. I believe that this is a form of life style that individuals choose to be involved in.

It is a given fact that people could die and suffer medical harm if they don't have health benefits....the point is: If they are not legally entitled to the benefits, Citizens of El Paso should not pay for them !! Are we also to provide health benefits to tons of citizens of El Paso who would suffer the same fate because they don't have health benefits??? Should we ONLY provide health benefits to "those" SPECIAL people...would a legal precedent be set for other El Pasoans? Equality for all???

Good for the people fighting for equality because EP City Council are idiots for even considering this and even letting it be put on the agenda for discussion. Your discriminating people and you will get sued and lose.

Now i want a vote to deduct 1% from the city councils salary to pay back all the money they waisted on this matter.

They waisted over 250K tax payer money on this and yet mental health is on the chopping block. Thank you city council!

Tom Brown and his mob (yes, the 5% majority) conspired together to do an unlawful thing. They were corrected by an American Tradition: The Rule of Law. God bless America and forgive the bigots among us.

so now this pastor (who is so ignorant of the law that he was publicly mocked for it) is accusing the judge of deciding the case before all parties presented their arguments? what a fool.

he needs to keep his religion in his church and in his own life, not try and force it on all other El Pasoans. besides, he is a self-centered hypocrite (precisely as Jesus was not) and should never be regarded as an expert in anything, especially social justice and the rule of law.

I am not for same sex partners, or living as common laws, but who am I to make judgement on others. What I do not understand is why does religion has to get involve in political matters. Now a days even pastors take a wife an a family, and still no one makes judgement on them for doing so. I am glad this ordinance did not go thru. This very much seems like a witch hunt for those who like to live in different ways.

Another judge who is ignoring the will of the people has reared it's ugly head!

The Constitution trumps the will of 30,000 people with a minimal majority.


Why not just say, "To each their own"? What business is it of yours if someone is gay or whatever? Who is to say that there is a "maker"? What proof does anyone have? I'm sure you don't. Get with the times and abandon that goofy archaic way of thinking. I guess you believe in Santa and the tooth fairy and that the earth is flat and only 6,000 years old don't you? Pathetic!

Who is the lawyer who filed the lawsuit?
Who is the lawyer who responded to the lawsuit? Charlie McNabb, the city attorney, who is gay and is against the ordinance and is allied with those city council members who are against it? What did his pleadings say or not say?

Was Passtor Brown and the citizenry's vote even represented in that hearing?

Who is the judge who heard the case?

When was the case heard?

Was it an entire case or just an inunction?

J. Jopling on behalf of the police union
There is private council on behalf of the City.
Pastor Brown intervened and whether or not they have a justiciable interest was debatable. However, they had an attorney.
Judge Montalvo
Early January
injunction with final ruling in April, 2011.

I am so very grateful and thankful for Lyda Ness-Garcia. El Paso is better for having people like her!

I would like to know where "Pastor Tom Brown" received his seminary training. I was reared a Preachers son by a man who has a PhD. I was taught that Jesus Loves everyone and that there was no excuse for hatred just because someone was not like you. Tom Brown should be ashamed for the venom and hatred that he is helping to spread. This is not the actions of a person who truly has a calling to spread love and Gods Word.


as a minister, he needs to keep his ministry in his church. if he feels so incredibly obligated to thrust his narrow religious views on the rest of the populace, then he first needs a thorough education on the Constitution of the United States. if he's so eager to live in a place where religion = law, then he should move his smiling ignorant self to Iran. it's a grand freedom fest there every day.

Pastor Brown is a fake. Seriously, i smell a cult.

He claims to be spreading the word of God, yet he makes up his own rules. Finally, he gets the *facepalm he deserves!

Post new Comment