Before I became a bishop in The United Methodist Church, I spent many wonderful years pastoring an all-deaf congregation. During that time, I heard far too many heartbreaking stories from good people denied dignity and respect because they had a disability. Nothing inspired me as much as watching congregants face discrimination and prejudice with grace and strength. I joined them as they advocated for the Americans with Disabilities Act, cried with them as we heard the opposition's claims, and rejoiced when the law finally passed.
That is why I am speaking up for my lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters. I was surprised to learn Pennsylvania's laws don't treat all people equally, and that it's entirely legal to fire someone, deny a mortgage, or refuse a hotel room simply because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Hardworking Pennsylvanians are living in fear they will lose a job for reasons that have nothing to do with performance. Responsible citizens trying to achieve the American dream of home ownership are denied simply because of who they are.
As a person of faith, I believe we need to protect the rights of all people. I add my voice to those of thousands of others who believe in fairness and protection. I hope that this state can join many others in passing an antidiscrimination law.
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, Valley Forge, firstname.lastname@example.org
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