Heartland Clergy for Inclusion

acceptance from the heart

Why Omaha Needs to Pass the Equality Ordinance

February 29, 2012

Someone asked if I would post my address at the Equal Omaha Press Conference yesterday regarding why Omaha needs to pass Councilman Ben Gray’s proposed amendment to the non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT persons.  Here it is:

I am the Senior Minister of Countryside Community Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ on 87th and Pacific in Omaha.  I also represent a group of Christian clergy in Omaha who published The Heartland Proclamation last year – a document signed by over 250 credentialed clergy serving churches in Omaha and throughout the Heartland.  These clergy, which include ministers from the oldest churches in Omaha, declare that, for us, the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. We affirm our solidarity with all who are committed to work and pray for full acceptance and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in church and society.

In making these affirmations, we join with the vast majority of mainline Protestant denominations in America, nearly all of whom not only welcome gays and lesbians into membership, but are happy to ordain them as clergy.  The tide has changed – massively – in the Christian church in America. Condemnation of homosexuality by Christians is rapidly becoming yesterday’s news, not today’s reality.

Yet this is beside the point, really.  Councilman Gray’s non-discrimination amendment does not affirm homosexuality any more than it affirms the non-work activities of any Omaha employee.  The amendment is not about gays.  Its about the rights of all people to be judged at work by the job they do, not by the person they love.  Its about fairness.

The citizens of Omaha pay for legalized discrimination any time a hard-working citizen is denied employment or fired just for being gay.  A vote that continues legal protection for special class of discriminators is a vote to increase the welfare rolls.  It is a vote to burden our community whenever a friend, loved one, or colleague is denied the human dignity of earning a living.

One of many things that makes Omaha a great city is the fact that we work together as a community despite our religious, political, and cultural differences,.  In contrast to the political and religious Balkanization into which many of America’s cities have drifted in recent years, Omaha still has soul.  We can live with our differences because we still know that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

Let’s protect Omaha’s soul by protecting every citizen’s right to work in our city – whether black or white, republican or democrat, native-born Nebraskan or recent transplant, downtown urban hipster or West O suburbanite; gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender; Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Buddhist; Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, or Holy Ghost Pentecostal.

Written by Eric Elnes

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Welcome to the Heartland Clergy for Inclusion’s presentation of The Heartland Proclamation. Join us in an ongoing conversation about God’s unconditional love for all people and about advocation of justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.