Decades ago, the first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, encouraged LGBTQ people to come out to their loved ones, forcing those loved ones to confront “how they will hurt you in the voting booth.”
Now, thanks to the courage of one Kansas state Congressman’s daughter, it’s affecting how legislators back policy as well.
Kansas State Representative Ron Highland backed House Bill 2320, which would establish LGBTQ identities as falling under the umbrella of Secular Humanism. Under the 1961 Supreme Court case Torcaso v. Watkins, candidates for public office can’t be forced to profess a belief in God or any faith and the government can’t pass legislation that compels anyone to do the same. By classifying LGBTQ identities as Secular Humanism, HB 2320 would classify pro-LGBTQ legislation as an endorsement of the faith.
The bill goes on to claim that LGBTQ people are a religious subset because they have a “a daily code by which members may guide their daily lives,” and religious symbols, including the rainbow flag.
Highland’s daughter, Christel Highland, railed against her father’s endorsement of the bill in a now-viral Facebook post.
This has been a strange and difficult week indeed.My name is Christel Highland, and my Father, Representative Ron…
The letter states:
“I would respectfully ask that you think deeply prior to sponsoring any legislation. Legislation which reeks of utter disrespect toward anyone, actively striving to make the lives of others more difficult is beneath you. I love you, I always will, in spite of your flaws. I cannot, however, condone your cruel actions. Shame on you.”
The letter worked. Highland rescinded his support of the bill, saying:
“The bill that I should not have signed on to cosponsor contained some hateful language which I do not condone, and it is against our Lord’s command to love our neighbors. I have asked for my name to be removed from the bill.”
Christel Highland’s courage was applauded on Twitter.
Uh, kids of elected republicans, please, more of this!
— Same Ol' D (@DJ_Moffett) February 24, 2019
The young people will win.
— ☘️ Laura ☘️🌊 (@SAHMvoter) February 24, 2019
— HeN (@X_Henn) February 25, 2019
So glad younger Kansans are dragging the state into the 21st century. (I’m from KS03, represented by Congresswoman Sharice Davids. And I contributed to Pete Buttigieg).
— Jan Girando (@jgirando) February 24, 2019
They have words for Rep. Highland as well.