Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ten Reasons I Support a Fairness Ordinance in My Hometown

Act 208:  Speak up even if your voice quivers.

For the past 20 years or so, I've called Berea, Kentucky my hometown.  A hidden gem located in the Southeastern part of the Bluegrass state, in 1850, Berea was founded by ardent abolitionist missionaries and citizens sympathetic to emancipation.  The town later came to house Berea College, the first interracial and co-educational college in the south.  Over the last three years, citizens in the town have been trying to pass a local fairness ordinance that would extend protection from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.  I've been involved with the efforts in various capacities, most recently as a member of the local Human Rights Commission.  Today I've been asked to speak at the Bereans for Fairness Picnic, and here is what I plan to say. 

Ten reasons I support a fairness ordinance in Berea:
1.  Because as an employer, some of my most hard-working, most dedicated workers have been gay.....and some have been total slackers.  Come to think of it, the people my employees have chosen to date or love have really had absolutely no bearing on their work performance.

2.  Because people shouldn't have to justify who they do or do not love before sitting down to eat biscuits and gravy at the local Cracker Barrel.

3.  Because even if I didn't believe in same sex marriage (which I do)......but if I didn't.....I still wouldn't want all the gay people in this town to live on the streets because they weren't able to rent an apartment or buy a house.

4.  Because 50 years ago someone spoke out for me.

5.  Because if you are a woman, if you are a Christian, if you speak another language, if you are not white, if one of your parents was born outside of this country, if you are over the age of 40, if you have children, and if you've ever had a physical or mental disability.....50 years ago someone also spoke out for you.

6.  Because even if my God narrowly defined marriage as an institution reserved only for a man and a woman (which he doesn't)....but if he did.......he still wouldn't want innocent people to be harassed, or treated unfairly in their places of employment or denied a decent place to live.

7.  Because a long time ago, I was married to a gay man, who almost drove off a cliff just days before coming out to me.  Because he grew up in a world where the prospect of ending it all - for a split second seemed easier than facing himself, than facing communities like ours.

8.  Because right this very moment, you probably have a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, a relative, maybe even a son who is pondering the same thoughts my ex-husband did.

9.  Because as a town that was founded 160 years ago on principles of fairness, equality, and impartial Christian love, we are being hypocrites.

10.  Because quite frankly my friends, it's just the right thing to do. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I do have a precious son who is gay. I am a Kentuckian but I don't live in Berea. I wish I did. I'd like to work alongside you. My son moved away from our small-town (Mt. Sterling) several years ago, because...well, can you blame him? Anyway, thanks for staying in Kentucky....and thanks for blogging and being active on behalf of the marginalized and mistreated. I'm enjoying reading through all your posts. Keep it up! -- Stephanie Williams