On March 6th, University of Nebraska football coach Ron Brown appeared before the Omaha City Council to testify against anti-discrimination regulations proposed by Councilmember Ben Gray. His argument, essentially, was this: By protecting LGBTs from employment discrimination, the council would grant its imprimatur to sodomy. (The idea that Bible-believing Christians might be both anti-sodomy and anti-employment discrimination never occurred to him.) Andy's been covering the Omaha drama extensively — click here for the full back story.
As a gay Christian (that bleeds all things Big Red), and a long time season ticket holder that comes with a $1,000 dollar donation each year, I really felt betrayed by Coach Brown's comments. I am no stranger to this type of rhetoric. I was shocked to hear Coach Brown tie Memorial Stadium to his anti-gay statements.
I am a licensed registered nurse and an attorney. I say grace with every meal. I pray daily for those in need. I have dealt with homophobia since I was kid. I was bullied throughout school. In my twenties, I was fired from a job and kicked out of an apartment because I was gay. In my thirties, I was the victim of a hate crime and I was outed on the television show Survivor. Now in my 40s, I still hear the anti-gay rhetoric throughout my beloved state.
I am all for free speech. There are limits when a representative like Coach Brown who is associated with the University exercises his first amendment rights and states that his address is Memorial Stadium. I get that it was an attempt at humor; I can assure you that many gay and straight husker fans did not find it funny.
As you are aware, the University is comprised of all types of various colors, genders, ages, religions, and yes, people of different sexual orientations and gender identities. While Coach Brown's fight for his civil rights, is waning, the rights of gays and lesbians are far from secure. To hear Coach Brown, a representative of the University of Nebraska, use God and Jesus to argue against providing gays and lesbians protection from people that would harm them in the work place is beyond the pale. It makes me wonder what would happen if one of the football players came out. Would he bench them? Would he recommend kicking them off the team? I know former players that are gay. Has the University ever once asked them what it was like hiding in plain sight?
You can read the full letter here.
Osborne apologized, writing that:
I'm sorry that you've been offended by Ron Brown's comments. I can assure you that Ron's comments are reflective of his own views and do not represent those of the Athletic Department or the University.
But Ron Brown won't shut up. In interviews last week, according to Omaha.com:
… Brown also questioned whether he would have been criticized if he had testified in support of the anti-discrimination proposal.
“Should every employee from the University of Nebraska have to say that they're not representing the university?” Brown asked. “Would I have been OK if I was on the other side of the coin, in terms of if I was in favor of the proposal?”
Of course it would have, Ron, because in that instance you would have been repping the University's POV. Not all opinions are equal.