On Lobby Day
On Ash Wednesday, DBCC took a van full of people, in addition to two cars, to Lobby Day at the State Capitol in Frankfort. We went for the purpose of advocating for statewide fairness legislation and an anti-bullying bill.
In terms of the statewide fairness bill, we were making an appeal to legislators to grant a hearing to Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 188, which would protect people across the state from discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. Specifically, this legislation would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination across the state of Kentucky when it comes to employment, housing, and public accommodations. Here in Louisville, as well as in Lexington and Covington, those rights are already protected, but not in the rest of the state.
The anti-bullying legislation, House Bill 336, seeks to enumerate protected classes of students who are disproportionately targeted by bullying peers, while affirming a student’s right to religious freedom of speech regarding sexual orientation. Enumerating protected classes (race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or identity) makes the law enforceable.
The importance of anti-bullying legislation became painfully urgent early on in the day. I was at the prayer breakfast with some legislators. Everything was nice and comfortable—eggs, biscuits, grits, coffee. Cheerful conversation. Then, a man in a leather jacket and a crew-cut walked in.
Michael Aldridge, director of the ACLU, came over and said, “That’s Travis Campbell—the father of Miranda Campbell, the girl who killed herself 3 weeks ago in Hopkinsville after being bullied because she was bi-sexual.”
I got up and went over to Mr. Campbell. He seemed shaken—and really, who wouldn’t? I said, “I’m Derek Penwell. I’m glad to meet you, and I appreciate you coming here today. I’m so sorry for your loss.”
He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and he said, “I just found out about this yesterday. I had to come.”
He “had to come” to try to make sure that his loss wouldn’t be forgotten, and to help make a way to protect other people from having to suffer the same grief.
We at DBCC “had to come” to ensure that everyone knows that there’s more than one theological interpretation when it comes to announcing God’s love for all God’s children. We wanted to be clear that whatever discrimination people might suffer because of their orientation or identity, God’s not behind it.
It was a great day. I was proud to say I’m the minister at Douglass Boulevard Christian Church.
Of course, that’s nothing new. I’m always proud of that.