From Jonathan Saenz to the Gay Communist Stripper - A Testimony of Freedom

Last Wednesday, I was at the Texas Capitol working on some bills and getting ready for our Young Republican reception that evening. Unfortunately, I never made it to the reception. As I was going around to various committees and watching bills I dropped by State Affairs. I register for a lot of bills there because they get many dealing with abortion and end of life issues. I had already registered and wanted to stop by and see where they were in the process.

As I did, I saw my friend Michelle Smith from Attorney General Ken Paxton's office and started discussing the bills being presented. The one she and many in the room were there to watch was HB 3567, which would give pastors and other religious affiliated business legal protection should the choose not to participate in same sex ceremonies. I had not planned on testifying, but after listening to several people attack the pastors as hateful and bigoted I chose to speak up.

Here is my testimony:

Jason Vaughn representing myself on HB 3567

Someone earlier stated that gays and lesbians were the only ones it's appropriate to discriminate against. They have apparently never been been a fat guy trying to fit in these seats.

I wasn't going to testify on this bill today, but I thought I could briefly give a different view.

I stand before you as a gay man in support of this bill, but the truth is that my sexuality shouldn't matter. Nor should anything else other than the fact that I'm a proud Texan with inalienable rights.

Inalienable rights to live my life as I wish as long as I do not hinder the rights of others. That's what the gay rights movement has been about, at least until recently. Now it seems that folks are more interested in forcing others to take part in our lives. The actions of my community that have too often made up the news cycle are nothing more than hypocrisy. To say that we want the right to live as we wish while harassing companies like Chick-Fil-A, attacking Brendan Eich in California until he could not work, and even demanding that HGTV fire the Benham Brothers for their views on abortion and gay marriage is beyond the pale.

Pastors seeking to defend their faith, or that say they don't believe in gay marriage is not hate nor homophobia; to claim such shows you to be one of the most protected people to ever live and to demean what true hatred and homophobia is.

One representative asked earlier if this bill really did more than current law. I don't know, but after the events of the past couple of years, is it really unimaginable to pass it simply to clarify our rights (as we do with many bills that come out of the legislature)?

I'm sickened that we are at the point that pastors feel the need for this bill, but I urge you to support it.

After speaking, one of the representatives asked if I agreed with another pastor that testified that disagreement is not the same as hatred or discrimination. I think my best line of the night might have been that I did agree and I have many friends I disagree with on important issues. “I have friends from Jonathan Saenz to a gay communist stripper.” That one caught Progress Texas' attention.

I received a few mocking comments from the left about how I was self-hating or in denial because I believe in the rights of all people to live as they wish. I've found humor to be the best response.

At the end of testimonies the bill was left pending. If you'd like to help push the bill forward I'd encourage you to call Chairman Byron Cook and request a vote at their next formal meeting on HB 3567. His number at the Capitol is 512-463-0730.

All people should feel completely free to speak and live their lives whether they be LGBT or people of faith.


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