Monday, April 23, 2007

Kansas pastor lobbies for fair laws for gays

By Diane Silver

[updated 12:15 a.m.]
Yup, there's only one Christian viewpoint on gays. Just don't tell that to the Rev. Josh Longbottom, an associate pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence.

He just got back from visiting Washington, DC, and talking to Kansas' representatives and senators about the Matthew Shepard Act and a bill to end discrimination in employment.

The first bill would add sexual orientation to existing federal hate crimes law that already protects people on the basis of their religion and protects minorities. The second bill would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Clergy from 50 states went to Capitol Hill last week to lobby for the bill.

I'm surprised only one minister came from Kansas. Given the many pastors who support fair laws for lesbians and gays in this state, I suspect the turnout had more to do with organizing than support. I worked with clergy during the 2005 campaign to defeat the marriage ban and was overwhelmed by their commitment to fairness and their anger at anti-gay ministers.

PHOTO: Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese speaks at the Clergy Call for Justice and Equality. More than 220 clergy from every state in the country called on Congress.

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