December 1, 2015
As religious leaders, our traditions and denominations have different theological positions about many matters, including some of the specifics around sexual orientation and gender identity. One thing we can agree on, though, without equivocation, is that neither gender identity nor sexual orientation justifies discrimination in employment or public accommodation.
While same-sex marriage is now legal, there are still areas of equality that need to be addressed. When the state threatens to find gay men and lesbians unfit as parents, simply based on their sexual orientation, we can be sure that discrimination is alive and has not been driven underground. Yet, no federal or state law prohibits that kind of treatment. There are also no federal or states laws prohibiting discrimination in hiring practices or housing. LGBT people can still be fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We feel the need to speak out on this issue because religion is often cited as a justification for discriminatory action against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. Our religious values oppose such bias and judgment, encouraging instead adherence to the principle of love for neighbor. Discrimination justified by religion is still discrimination.
We appreciate that Manhattan has implemented a policy to prohibit hiring discrimination for city employees due to sexual orientation, but more needs to be done. Other Kansas cities have created ordinances to provide protections which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We can, and should, do the same. We urge attention to this by our City Commission.
Rev. Paul J. Allen IV Rev. David A Jones
Senior Pastor, First Christian Church Pastor, Ecumenical Campus Ministry
Rev. Troy Bowers Rev. Melanie Martin
Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church Associate Pastor, First United Methodist Church
Rev. Barbara Krehbiel Gehring Rev. Patrick McLaughlin
Co-pastor, Manhattan Mennonite Church Associate Pastor, First United Methodist Church
Rev. Richard Gehring Rev. Caela Simmons Wood
Co-pastor, Manhattan Mennonite Church Pastor, First Congregational United Church of Christ
Rev. Jonalu Johnstone Rev. A. Patrick Funston
Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan Rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Rev. Dr. Helen Hutchison Rev. Dr. Dennis L. Ackerman
Pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Pastor, College Avenue United Methodist Church
Rev. Rachel Williams-Glenn Rev. Justin Jamis
Pastor, Bethel AME Chruch Pastor, KSU Wesley
December 2, 2015 Manhattan Mercury