Some 35 Kalamazoo, Mich., area clergy and other religious leaders have taken a public stand against a ballot measure, "Proposal A," that would make it illegal for Kalamazoo to create protections for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
The religious leaders have endorsed a statement that supports equal treatment for all people and encourages a "No" vote on Proposal A.
At a press conference on Oct. 18, the clergypersons announced their opposition.
The Rev. Ruth Blount, associate pastor of First Congregational UCC in Kalamazoo, urged, "Let us be the Samaritan, who had compassion on the stranger, the one different from himself, and who acted justly. A 'No' vote allows freedom to flourish. On Nov. 6, vote; do not pass by on the other side."
The Rev. Charles Kutz-Marks, pastor of Kalamazoo Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pointed out that lesbian and gay people are often beaten up, taunted and terrorized.
"If all the world would treat people with equality, if there was no prejudice, then there would be no need for legislation to protect people," said Kutz-Marks at the press conference. "Until that time, it is the duty of responsible governments to care for and to protect all the people, especially those whose sexual orientation bewilders or frightens us. Therefore, do not hamstring your commu-nity's fine leadership. Defeat Proposal A."
The Rev. Pieter Kiwiet-Pantaleoni, pastor of First Baptist Church in Kalamazoo, stressed a common misunderstanding about the proposal.
"It is being promoted as a way to keep certain people from claiming 'special rights,'" he said. "However, Proposal A would actually make it illegal to protect gay people from the special discrimination they face on a daily basis."
The campaign against the measure included writing letters to the editors of the area newspapers, talking to friends and neighbors, and attending a special vigil on Sunday, Nov. 4.
Among those joining the coalition against Proposition A were were clergy and religious leaders from Church of the Brethren, United Methodist Church, Temple B'nai Israel, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Episcopal Church, Kalamazoo Friends Meeting (Quaker), and Unitarian Universalist Church, among others.
At press time, the results of the vote were not known.