Homer White's speech at today's Georgetown Non-Discrimination Rally

100_1303Georgetown College has changed for the better in a lot of ways, in the last few years.
- We have a thriving diversity initiative.
- For the past five years we have had written policies in place that prevent discrimination against gay students, and anti-harassment policies that protect people of all sorts.
- Recently we hired our first openly gay faculty members.

So we honestly believed it was a matter of mere housekeeping to extend the College’s nondiscrimination policies for faculty and staff to include such things as sexual orientation.  In April 2012 the faculty approved such a policy for faculty.  This proposal passed with 90% of the vote and a big round of applause.

But last year the Board of Trustees voted down the new policy.  We are here today to ask, in public, that the Board reconsider its decision, and to make the case for our proposal.

Certainly it’s the right thing to do for many practical reasons:
- Most other Colleges that we admire have such a policy.  Colleges know that students these days just aren’t afraid of being around gay folks.
- Every Fortune 500 company in Kentucky has such a policy:  they say that a diverse work force is a creative and committed workforce.

But for us the heart of the matter is that it’s simply the right thing to do, morally and spiritually.  Still, we do encounter some objections, so I’d like to consider them briefly

Some on campus do have moral and theological objections to gay relationships.  They are objections of principle.

To them we say:  You can and should, in conscience, oppose us!  In fact, we want you to oppose us, because you would then be acting on your conscience, and we consider people who act on their conscience to be our friends.  But we invite you to become our allies.

So oppose us by engaging us in a conversation, where the aim is to find out the truth.  We really do want to speak with you in this way.  In fact we look forward to that conversation so very much that we would like to suggest a couple of things for you to think about in advance.

Think about the meaning and value you attach to the committed love of two human beings.  Most of what comes to mind has nothing to do with their ability to have children.  By their love for one another, a couple support and uphold each other, whether or not they have children.   And whether or not they have children, their love also reaches outward in a lifetime of service to the community, precisely because their love is:
- planted in the community,
- affirmed by the community,
- celebrated by the community,
- nurtured by the community
- and protected by the community.

The same exalted possibilities exist for gay couples, who, just like any infertile straight couple, cannot have children.  A gay couple can support and uphold one another through a lifetime, and can serve the community for a lifetime, provided that their love is:
- planted in the community
- affirmed by the community,
- celebrated by the community,
- nurtured by the community
- and protected legally by the community

Think about Scripture. We know you like to!  No doubt you’ll draw our attention to passages in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament that appear to condemn homosexuality, and you’ll point out that Jesus has not a word to say in defense of it. But at the same time, the Hebrew Scriptures condone and regulate slavery, St. Paul enjoins slaves to obey their masters, and Jesus has nary a word to say against it. Do you therefore think it’s OK to buy and sell human beings? Of course not!  Instead you realize that in order to draw out and abide by the deep meaning of Scriptural teachings on justice and the dignity of the human person, you have to set aside the passages that support slavery. Re-examine Scriptural teachings on human love in a similar way: look for their deepest meaning. You may conclude that in order to draw out their deepest meaning and to really uphold the exalted possibilities of a human marriage, you will have to set aside the ancient injunctions against gay love. When you set aside these injunctions, you are not being led astray by the Devil, but responding instead to the Holy Spirit who guides you to all Truth. When your heart changes on a matter so profound and so intimate you will not experience this change as retreat from your faith, but rather as a liberation—and a joy.

We turn now to the Board of Trustees, who so far have not shown a great deal of interest in a conversation.  But thanks to the persistence of some very brave students we have been able to learn a few of their objections to our proposal, and I regret to report that they are not objections of principle.

Some on the Board say there is no need for a nondiscrimination policy. “Show us the discrimination on campus!” they have demanded.

To this we say: you need look no further than your own history! In the one recorded instance where the College came under external pressure to fire an employee who had come out as gay, the College caved in to that pressure and compelled that person to resign. This happened in the year 2000.  We know the name of this person, and believe me the people in this building know his name, too!

A written policy that protects both faculty and staff will empower College officials to resist external pressure in the future.

Some on the Board have said that a nondiscrimination policy increases the College’s legal liability.

To them we say:
- football increases our legal liability,
- baseball increases our legal liability,
- basketball increases our legal liability,
- any number of worthy collegiate activities increase our legal liability.
- If we are glad to sponsor these activities because their worth outweighs their risks, should we not accept, with even greater joy, the obligations that attend upon justice?

Some on the Board have said: “the College will change its policy someday. But we want to wait until Baptist culture changes in Kentucky.”

To them we say:
- The culture changes when people stop being satisfied with the status quo
- The culture changes when people decide they will not wait for it to change
- The culture changes when people stop pretending to be what they are not
- So stop pretending, stop waiting!  Join us now in creating a new culture—a new Baptist culture, if you like--right here on this campus:  a culture of inclusion and respect for the dignity of every human person.

And bear in mind, too, that by adopting this policy you will not only be helping Georgetown College.  You may wind up doing a world of good for other folks, too.  Maybe right now there is some other small Christian college in Kentucky:
- Where students sit alone in their dorm rooms and wonder:  “How much longer do I have to pretend to be straight?”
- Where faculty and staff sit alone in their offices and wonder:  “How much longer do we have to pretend that gay students choose not to come to this college?”
- Where members of the Board of Trustees sit alone and at home and wonder:  “How much longer do we have to pretend that we don’t have gay professors on our campus?”

Maybe folks at that other College will hear about what Georgetown has done, and they’ll start talking with other and realize that they too are not satisfied with the status quo, that they too will not wait for the culture to change.  And most importantly, they too will realize that they are not alone.

Some years ago the Board gave this motto to Georgetown College:  “Live, Learn, Believe.”  We own that motto and we add to it:

Live, Learn, Believe and Lead!

Live, Learn, Believe and Lead!

Live, Learn, Believe and Lead! …

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.