Kansas GOP lawmaker apologizes for anti-LGBT bill after daughter scorns him

A Kansas state lawmaker issued a public apology this week after his daughter penned an open letter publicly condemning his decision to back an anti-LGBT bill.

“The bill that I should not have signed on to cosponsor contained some hateful language which I do not condone, and it is against our Lord’s command to love our neighbors,” state Rep. Ron Highland (R) said in a statement to his hometown newspaper, The Wamego Times, the Mercury reported.

{mosads}“I have asked for my name to be removed from the bill. The process for doing so is in motion,” he added.

The lawmaker’s comments came after his daughter, Christel Highland, posted an open letter Wednesday on Facebook asking the Kansas Republican why he would “openly attempt at policy that elevates hate and hurts my family or friends.”

“Your most sacred job as an elected official is to serve and protect people,” she wrote. “Your God did not elect you, living, breathing humans beings did. Further isolating the marginalized among the population you serve is far from your duty.”

“Hate has no place in public policy. I respectfully request an apology on behalf on my family and beloved friends that this cruel attempt at legislation impacts — viable or not — and I beg that you show yourself to be the honorable man I’ve always known you to be,” she continued. “Ultimately, what is right can never be something that hurts another. You taught me that.”

“I love you, I always will, in spite of your flaws,” she wrote. “I cannot, however, condone your cruel actions. Shame on you.” 

Shortly after the letter was released, Ron Highland said his decision to back the legislation “was a mistake.”

House Bill 2320, the legislation at the center of the controversy, characterizes same-sex marriages as “parody marriages,” which it defines as “any form of alleged marriage that does not involve a man and a woman.”

The bill says that the “state shall no longer be in the parody marriage funding and endorsement business and shall disentangle itself from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) secular humanist church pursuant to this section and the establishment clause of the 1st amendment of the constitution of the United States.”

“The state shall not, through any government action create, enforce or respect any LGBTQ or any other secular humanist policy whether directly or symbolically,” the bill adds. “The state shall maintain the separation of church and state, which includes separating itself from the non-institutionalized religions such as secular humanism, expressive individualism and postmodern western individualistic moral relativism.”

Christel Highland told The Washington Post that she wrote the letter “because I had friends in Kansas whom I knew were reeling from yet another attempt to legislate hate.”

“I wrote that letter from a place of exhaustion as a result of our divisive political climate,” she told the newspaper. “The overwhelmingly positive response to my message shows that I am not alone in my longing for kindness, respect, and acceptance to return to our policy-making process.”

She also added that she was proud of her father’s apology, however, and said she feels he set “an excellent example.”

“It took strength to do what my Father did, and I’m proud of him for setting an excellent example to his colleagues and constituents by removing his co-sponsorship from HB 2320,” she said in the statement. “I think this situation is an example of what is possible if we work together toward good with love in our hearts.”


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