Last week, I testified before the City of Mission City Council. Mission is a small city in Johnson County. The council is considering a proposal that would create a sexual orientation and gender identity “non-discrimination” ordinance. It’s the same sort of law that has led to the punishment of Christian business owners like baker Jack Phillips in Colorado and florist Barronelle Stutzman in Washington.
Mission doesn’t need a SOGI ordinance. During the hearing, council members admitted there was no evidence of discrimination in the city. Passing one is meant to be a symbolic gesture of support for the LGBTQ community. “A sign of what Mission stands for,” as one council member said.
Let’s be clear, what Mission will be standing for is making sure Christians know they aren’t welcome.
I was one of only two people to speak in opposition to the ordinance (15-20 people testified in support of it). After the meeting, a police officer told me that he had been instructed to escort me to the parking lot. He agreed that it was probably unnecessary, but said a member of the council thought it would be a good idea, just in case.
At no point in the meeting did I feel unsafe, but his act captures an essential truth about the debate over the ordinance having to do with power and status in American society today.
One of the proponents told the council that people who believe like you and me are only concerned with preserving our power and privilege. I must say, as I sat in the meeting, so thoroughly outnumbered, with speaker after speaker making false claims about me and those who share our values, I didn’t feel very powerful.
For a long time in America being gay was a dangerous thing to be. That’s regrettable, and apologies are owed to those who suffered unjust discrimination and persecution because of their sexual orientation. Happily, those times are all about over. Yes, there may still be incidences of hate, but not in Mission. Not in Kansas.
Rather, in the 10 years or so that I’ve been working in the areas of marriage, family, and religious freedom, I have seen massive global corporations leverage their influence on behalf of the LGBTQ movement. In America today, you and I can’t use a cell phone (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T), browse the internet (Apple, Google) take a trip (Delta, Southwest, Uber), watch sports (ESPN, NBA, NCAA) or buy a pair of khakis (J Crew, Banana Republic, Gap) without tacitly endorsing a view with which we disagree. We see this same reality played out in Mission, where many of the most influential local companies – big and small – have voluntarily enacted their own non-discrimination policies.
I’m not complaining. I’m merely pointing out that the perception of LGBTQ Americans as a beleaguered minority without any power is belied by what we see around us.
America is a nation unlike any other. We are founded not on a shared lineage, but on an idea: the idea that all of us are created equal. Ours is an experiment of the hypothesis that people of every race, creed, socioeconomic status, sexuality, ability, educational level, and religion can live together in peace. That only works if we honor and protect the ability of people to live in light of beliefs we ourselves don’t understand or disagree with. Their freedom secures our freedom.
Thank you for helping me fight for fundamental freedoms. When I’m outnumbered in the room, I know there are thousands of ministry partners like you standing with me.
President and Executive Director
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