Kansas state Rep. Ron Highland asked for his name to be removed from an anti-LGBTQ bill after his daughter publicly shamed him for supporting it.
Highland, a powerful Republican in the state House who chairs both the agriculture and rules committees, was one of seven lawmakers who sponsored a bill that labels same-sex marriages “parody marriages” while elevating the status of heterosexual marriages, The Wichita Eagle reports.
His daughter Christel Highland posted an open letter on Facebook identifying herself as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and calling out her father over his support of the bill.
“One thing you said to me that struck me to my core at a very young age, which has lasted with me until this day is, ‘Think before you speak.’ I would respectfully ask that you think deeply prior to sponsoring any legislation. Legislation which reeks of utter disrespect toward anyone, actively striving to make the lives of others more difficult is beneath you,” Christel Highland writes in the letter.
After Christel published the letter, Rep. Highland apologized for his support of the bill and said he asked to have his name removed.
“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,” Highland said in a statement.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rep. Ron Highland Sponsored Bill That Called Same-Sex Marriage ‘Parody Marriages’
Highland, a Wamego Republican who chairs both the Joint Committee on Rules and Regulations and the House Agriculture Committee, was one of seven sponsors of a set of bills aimed at elevating heterosexual marriage, reducing porn consumption, taxing strip club attendance, and limiting online censorship of religious speech, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Among the bills is House Bill 2320, which calls same-sex marriage “parody marriages.”
The bill would establish “elevated marriage” in the state for straight couples, The Wichita Eagle reported. The bill claims that same-sex marriages are “parody marriages,” which are defined as “a form of nonsecular marriage that tends to erode community standards of decency, unlike secular marriage between a man and a woman, who have reached the age of consent.”
“The term ‘parody marriage’ refers to so-called marriages between more than two people, persons of the same sex, a person and an animal, or a person and an object,” the bill says.
The bill also attempts to disassociated LGBTQ rights from the civil rights movement, saying that “there are no ex-blacks but there are thousands of ex-gays,” and that “skin-tone is genetic and sexual orientation is faith-based.”
2. Highland’s LGBTQ+ Daughter Christel Publicly Shamed Her Dad Over The Bill
After the bill was introduced, Highland’s daughter Christel wrote an open letter on Facebook declaring herself a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and publicly shaming her father.
“One thing you said to me that struck me to my core at a very young age, which has lasted with me until this day is, ‘Think before you speak.’ I would respectfully ask that you think deeply prior to sponsoring any legislation. Legislation which reeks of utter disrespect toward anyone, actively striving to make the lives of others more difficult is beneath you,” Christel Highland wrote.
“I love you, I always will, in spite of your flaws,” she wrote. “I cannot, however, condone your cruel actions. Shame on you.”
“I beg that you show yourself to be the honorable man I’ve always known you to be,” she pleaded.
3. Rep. Highland Apologized for Support and Asked For His Name to Be Removed From The Bill
Rep. Highland issued an apology and said that he has asked for his name to be removed from the bill after his daughter’s letter was widely circulated last week.
“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,” he said in a statement, adding that he has asked for his name to be removed from the legislation.
“I trusted the author of the bill who is my office mate and signed on to several of his bills. Knowing that some of them were very important, I trusted that they all were, and that was not the case. However, I must take responsibility,” he added.
4. Christel Highland Praised Her Father’s Move
Christel Highland shared her father’s statement on Facebook and wrote, “Now I have to write another letter,” adding a heart emoji.
“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 told The Wichita Eagle. “I think this situation is an example of what is possible if we work together toward good with love in our hearts. I can only hope that this is a step in a positive direction where we work to make the pursuit of happiness easier for one another irrespective of birthplace, race, beliefs, or orientation.”
“I wrote that letter from a place of exhaustion as a result of our divisive political climate,” she said.
5. Rep. Highland is Still Sponsoring The Other Controversial Bills
Though Highland pulled his name off of the anti-LGBTQ bill, he defended sponsoring the other bills.
NBC News reported that the Kansas bills were copied from an activist who has pulled legal stunts to mock gay marriage, including trying to marry his laptop. Similar bills have been introduced in South Carolina and Wyoming, but have not received a hearing.
The bills were modeled after those created by Chris Sevier. Some parts were copied verbatim.
“Kansas introduced six of my bills today,” Sevier bragged on Facebook.