Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Town Hall Address on Behalf of the Fairness Ordiance

The following address was spoken on behalf of an effort to pass a fairness ordinance in Frankfort, Kentucky at a town hall meeting: 

My name is Chuck Queen and I speak as a citizen of this community, a participant in the Frankfort coalition for fairness, and as a Christian minister in the community.

It seems to me that all the arguments that have been marshaled against this ordinance are the same kind of arguments that were used against civil rights legislation. And we know from this side of history how wrong those arguments were and how they cloaked deeply entrenched biases. I do not want to suggest that the same motives are behind the opposition to this ordinance, because I am no one’s judge, but they are the same arguments. And we all should be aware that the larger world will judge us on that basis and will make that connection.

As a Christian minister, and particularly a Baptist minister I am deeply disappointed that the major push against this ordinance is coming from the Christian community and the Baptist community in particular. But I can assure you as a Baptist minister that the voices of opposition certainly do not speak for all Christians, nor do they speak for all Baptists.

One of the constant themes in the Gospels is how Jesus over and over crossed borders and boundaries, overturned barriers, and tore down walls to welcome, accept, and include the very ones that the religious and social establishment had marginalized, disenfranchised, and excluded. I’m sure the religious establishment of Jesus’ day had some very rational and reasonable arguments why these others could not be included. At great personal cost Jesus challenged the status quo and refused to conform to the voices of exclusion.

I want to urge our City Commission not to heed the voices of exclusion.  There are other Christian leaders like myself and many other Christians who favor this ordinance and we believe that fairness and equality and inclusion are Christian principles.

I would ask you to listen to the voice that speaks from and to your deepest self and then go forward with drafting and passing an ordinance that protects our LGBT sisters and brothers while respecting religious freedom. Passing such an ordinance is the just, good, right and fair thing to do. 

I wrote the following letter to the editor after the ordinance passed:

Frankfort passed a fairness ordinance, thanks, in no small part, to the excellent work of the Frankfort Fairness Coalition. They have demonstrated that progressives passionate about equality, inclusion, and bettering our world can be just as mobilized and engaged for a cause as conservatives when they are fueled by oppositional energy against a cause. It seemed to me that many of those who participated in the Fairness Coalition, who claim no church affiliation, acted more Christian (like Christ) than some Christians who vehemently opposed this ordinance.

Special thanks to Mayor Bill May and Commissioners Katie Hadden and Tomas Haines for voting for this ordinance. This ordinance will play a vital role in helping to create a climate of inclusion, equality, and antidiscrimination in Frankfort.

Also, I would like to thank the local ministers who supported this ordinance, some of whom spoke for it and wrote letters to the editor. They have demonstrated that a progressive Christian vision is alive and well in Frankfort.

Progressive Christian leaders take the Bible just as seriously as Christian conservatives; we simply have a different way of understanding and interpreting Scripture. And we especially take Jesus’ life and teachings seriously, who we believe embodied and proclaimed an inclusive vision of the kingdom of God.



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