I was able to testify today in favor of House Bill 2, which would Add the Words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Codes.
my testimony starts at 1:49.
Here are my edited remarks:
My name is Marci Glass and I am the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise. I’m here on behalf of the 200 plus members of my congregation who believe Adding the Words is the Christian thing to do.
As an aside, all of my sermons are online and can be read without a subpoena.¹
While people pointed out yesterday that you cannot legislate kindness, you can legislate equality under the law. And until people are willing to treat Idahoans who are gay and trans with kindness, equality will have to do.
I was concerned yesterday at the amount of hatred expressed toward Idaho’s gay and trans community in some testimony against this bill. What concerned me even more, as a pastor, is how much of that testimony hid behind the name of religion. Much of that testimony yesterday illustrates exactly why this bill is needed to protect people from hatred in the name of God’s love.
I am here as a pastoral response to the pain I have seen inflicted on members of my congregation and on people in the community.
My call, as a minister of the Good News of Jesus Christ is to proclaim justice for the oppressed, and to stand with people as Christ would. Jesus offered radical hospitality, inviting all people to participate in the work of God’s mercy and love.
So it is my deep commitment to the God revealed in Scripture and to the teachings of Jesus that I am here today to speak for adding the words. While Scripture says very little about sexual orientation, it says quite a bit about justice, about hospitality, and about welcoming the stranger.
My stance for equal treatment in society is deeply rooted in the word of God, a God who created each of us, all of us, in the very image of God and declared that creation good. A God who became human and lived among us, full of grace and truth, eating with outcasts, touching the unclean, and inviting all to join in the work of grace, mercy, and peace.
I know there are worries about how this might affect religious traditions that prohibit homosexual behavior. But equality under the law is necessary for religious freedom.
It would not be religious liberty for one religious tradition to limit another’s right to worship by imposing their particular interpretation of scripture on another faith community.
It is not religious liberty to allow one group of people to cause pain to another group of people in the workplace, in schools, or in the public square because of how they interpret scripture.
My advocating for equal rights legislation is not to impose changes on how other faith communities practice. It is to allow the people in Idaho the freedom to live as I live, with the same rights I have.
I urge you not to let the continued warnings about the florists and cake bakers to distract you from the real issue here. In a civil society, with multiple religious traditions, it is incumbent on us to not let only one religious tradition dictate how we will treat each other. (Here’s my post on the false controversy at the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel).
Updating the law to extend protection to ALL Idahoans is an idea that is also foundational to almost all of our faith traditions. Concern for the neighbor. Hospitality for the stranger. The flourishing of the community. These behaviors are all grounded in our holy documents and traditions.
¹A number of clergy who spoke against the Bill had testified they were worried that passage of this legislation would lead to their sermons being subpoenaed. That is, of course, nonsense. They were referring to an unrelated situation in Houston. You can read about it here. It is absurd to suggest that a sermon, publicly delivered in a room full of people (and then often podcasted or published online) is somehow supposed to be private and protected speech. What do those people have to hide in their sermons?