LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska’s only openly gay elected official is calling for the termination of University of Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown after he testified against Omaha’s proposed ordinance to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Barbara Baier, a member of the Lincoln Board of Education, said Brown’s comments “may threaten the well being” of the University’s athletes, and could be in violation of the school’s non-discrimination policy.
On March 6, Brown testified before the Omaha City Council against the proposed anti-discrimination measure, telling council members that if they have “a relationship with Christ … you will be held to great accountability for the decision you make” for supporting the ordinance.
Prior to testifying, Brown listed his address as 1 Memorial Stadium (located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln).
“I’ve decided to write this letter out of concern for gay and lesbian NU athletes, who may fear Brown’s beliefs that homosexuality is a sin, may threaten the well being of the athletes,” Baier wrote, in a letter to University officials.
“When some people seek to camouflage their hatred under the cloak of their faith, their professed religious beliefs should not shield them from the consequences of their actions.”
Following Brown’s testimony, University Chancellor Harvey Perlman responded that that university doesn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation, and that Brown should have made it clear his comments did not represent the university.
“Although I am disappointed in Brown’s comments, he has the right to express his personal opinions, and has done nothing to warrant his dismissal. But I am personally offended by the comments of Coach Brown with regards to gays and lesbians community.
“Whether intended to do so or not, they reflect poorly on the university, on our athletic programs, and I am certain they cause pain and discomfort among a valued and productive segment of our community.”
Brown said his testimony was motivated by “a much larger issue” than perceived discrimination against gay and transgender persons, and said that amending the local ordinance would force those morally opposed to homosexual activity to accept behavior that contradicts their religious beliefs.