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A Lesbian Lawmaker For Religious Liberty

A reader sends this startling interview with Hawaii state Rep. Jo Jordan, an Democrat and out lesbian who is not part of a church community, but who opposes the state’s marriage equality bill as currently written because in her view, it doesn’t protect religious liberty strongly enough. More:

I was blasted by the GLBT community on Saturday, outside the door. That took me aback. At the time, I hadn’t stated my position, and I was still undecided. These were testifiers the day before, saying, “How can you be undecided? You should be a ‘yes.’ Do you know what this means?” And I politely engaged with them: “I have some problems with SB1.” I explained the issues and they slammed me again. “It’s good. Just vote yes.” They started getting boisterous. My natural instinct is, I’m going to fly some words at you. But you can’t, so I’m like, “Thank you.”

It has been interesting. I am not part of any faith-based group, so I walked in thinking those were going to be the ones going, grrrr, grrrr. But unfortunately, it’s been coming from my community during the hearing. I was like, “Wow, so much for minorities that have been suppressed.” [Emphasis mine — RD] But I’ve got to look at it this way: Maybe they feel they’ve been suppressed for so long that they no longer can contain it and they are just going to lash out at anything without thinking first. But I have to keep that faith to help me not take it personally. It’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about, are we creating a measure that meets the needs of all?

I had come to the decision that SB1 needed to amended. It wasn’t protective enough for everybody.

Thank you, Jo Jordan. If you read the piece, she says that she believes she has to represent all her constituents, not just those like herself. And she does not believe the marriage equality bill as currently written does that. She’s not against marriage equality, but she wants to make sure that religious dissenters are covered. Again: thank you, Jo Jordan. It took a lot of courage to cast that vote. Here’s what she said afterward, on the House floor, about what she learned from the experience about tolerance:

“I’m not held to any specific conviction but I do have certain beliefs that I hold near and dear. And in this process I have been shown so much love by a community I thought hated me,” Jordan tearfully told colleagues on the House floor. “And I found so much hate in a community that I thought embraced me. See Mr. Speaker, I have no hate for them.”

I have been shown so much love by a community I thought hated me. There’s a lesson in that for us religious and social conservatives.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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