On March 27, 2018, Left Hand Church pastors Jen Jepsen and Paula Stone Williams testified against Colorado House Bill 1206. The bill was voted down in committee.
Their remarks are re-printed here.
Jen Jepsen, Pastor of Reconciling Ministries:
Thank you Mr. Chairman for hearing my testimony today. My name is Jennifer Jepsen. I live in Longmont and I am here representing the Interfaith Alliance as well as Left Hand Church in Longmont where I serve as one of the pastors. Left Hand Church is an open and affirming community, welcoming and including all members of the LGBTQ population.
As first and foremost a Christian, as one who takes seriously the greatest commandment of Loving God and Loving my neighbor as I love myself, I believe as a Christian, as a pastor, as a human it is my greatest responsibility to determine what love looks like. I don’t have to look much farther than Jesus. Jesus is our greatest teacher. And Jesus was all about human dignity.
This “Live and Let Live” Bill is one of the farthest things away from the imperative of loving our neighbors. Human dignity has no place in this bill. This denial of services whether it’s adoption and foster care, health care, housing, employment or the use of public spaces - does not advocate for who Jesus would advocate for. There is no offering of human dignity.
I am a straight, cis-gender female. I am a married mother of three children. I am not at risk here. My rights are not threatened. But I have friends and I have family. As a pastor, my fellow pastors are threatened as well as many of my congregants. One thing I have learned from the LGBTQ people in my life is: They are just like me. They want the same things as me. They want the freedom to live a fruitful and productive life, a life where they can love who they love, where they can conduct business in their communities, where they can use their gifts, talents, resources to make the world a better place, where they can serve and grow alongside other people in their workplaces and houses of worship and where their children attend school.
Many Christians don’t agree with me. They believe that affirming our LGBTQ community is a threat to society, to our children, our schools - that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have an agenda. No, the ones I know just want to thrive where they live, given the same protections and kindnesses as anybody else.
This is human dignity - to offer a safe and productive environment for all people to participate equally in the life of their community.
As a follower of Jesus, I seek to understand people different than me. I seek to feel what they feel. This is called empathy. To be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer is not a choice. Let’s consider their humanity as children of God. Let’s reflect the beauty of our great state of Colorado, championing a breathtaking reflection of generous diversity.
Paula Stone Williams, Pastor of Preaching and Worship:
I am Rev. Dr. Paula Stone Williams, a pastor at Left Hand Church, a progressive evangelical congregation in Longmont. I am also a transgender woman, who used to be a teaching pastor at a mega church in Longmont and have, in fact, preached at three of the ten largest churches in the nation.
I was also the CEO of a large religious non-profit, a magazine editor and columnist, adjunct professor in two seminaries and an adoption caseworker. I lost all of those jobs within seven days of coming out as transgender. I had never had a bad review.
In 21 states you cannot be fired for being transgender, but in all 50 you can be fired if you are transgender and work for a religious corporation.
I am no longer welcome in any of the mega churches in which I once preached, and can already be legally excluded from participating in their services. But if HB-1206 becomes law, I could also be barred from being treated by my physician, my dentist, my therapist, the wedding venue around the corner from my home in Lyons and my bakery.
Last November I spoke for the TEDxMileHigh event at Bellco Theater and received a standing ovation from 5200 people. That video has been viewed 350,000 times online and has a 93% positive response. Most Americans believe I have a right to exist and to be served in the same way any other American is served, regardless of race, creed socioeconomic status, sexual or gender identity.
I hold two masters degrees and a doctorate in theology. This bill does not sound like religious freedom. It sounds like a denial of my civil rights.
I would be happy to answer any questions about my testimony.