Flint Hills Human Rights Project

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        December 1, 2015

 Distinguished Commissioners:

 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


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