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Here is a letter I wrote to the Metro Council last month after they failed to pass a fairness ordinance. 8 council members voted for continuing discrimination. 4 opposed it. I received one considerate and heartfelt response to my letter from a councilwoman who voted against it.

 

Dear Metro Council,

  I am writing you regarding your vote against the fairness ordinance. I wrote you before the vote in hopes that a plea from one of your city’s clergy would help you vote for a more compassionate, less discriminatory city. It is clear my plea fell on deaf ears.

 I am writing you today because your decision caused me great sorrow. Your vote left me, as I told a colleague as I left the council chambers, heartsick. In the most basic sense, I cried that night. I think that reconciliation is an important part of a healthy spiritual life, so I am writing you, the elected body that caused me pain, to reconcile.

 I would like to tell you that as a straight man I am writing you solely as an advocate for the LGBT members of my congregation who will now continue you to live in fear and instability because of your vote. I would like to tell you that my pain is merely because you hurt other people. That would be the easier explanation, but it isn’t sufficient.

 Your vote hurt me personally. It hurt me because of what it stood for. Eight of you looked into the eyes of your residents. These are people who live in your city, who you are elected to represent and protect. They were telling you they experience discrimination, that they are treated unfairly because of who they are. You looked into their eyes and voted to continue to allow them to be discriminated against.

 I know that votes for justice can be difficult and call on reserves of strength. I know that votes of justice can be difficult because you are leading people, sometimes people who don’t want to go there, towards a more just world. This was not one of those difficult choices. You voted for discrimination despite the fact that the majority of your residents opposed it. You voted for discrimination despite being asked not to on behalf of the business community. The two of you who were brave enough to say why you voted for discrimination said because other people would still be discriminated against and because it might increase lawsuits by 3%. I still have no idea why the other 6 of you voted for discrimination.

 I am sad because when I finally convinced my family to move to Louisiana, a state that I love dearly, I told them we wouldn’t be moving to a place as oppressive as they feared. I told them that Louisiana values were celebration and inclusion. I told them that the state they heard of, one that was behind the curve, unjust, needlessly racist and homophobic, was a myth created by people not from here, who didn’t know better. I told them that this was a great place to live. Your vote showed my family I wasn’t telling the whole truth. I want to live in a city that treats all of its residents with compassion, with justice, with kindness. I want to live in the city that I promised my family we would move to. I want a city I can be proud of, not one that brings me to tears.

 With a broken heart,

The Reverend Nathan A Ryan