A Majority of One: Today’s Testimony to Add the Words
Testimony in support of House Bill 2: Adding the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act
Rev. Dr. Andrew Kukla
Thank you Mr Chairman and members of the committee.
My name is Andrew Kukla, I am a resident of Boise, Idaho and I represent myself today as I speak in favor of House Bill 2.
I am a Presbyterian Minister. I am white (I am sure you noticed). I am also male, straight, and married. I was raised in middle America – the only son of a small business owner and my three sisters will tell you that gave me special privileges. I was afforded a great education at some of the finest institution in our country. I live in a society that places undo value on these traits: I am of a privileged and protected class. I am also a Christian, and despite all the press of the decline of mainline Christianity, it is still the dominant majority of our society given more than equal standing and voice. The world I live in was made to give me all the advantages, and in all scenarios, to protect me.
I’m even right-handed.
In my life journey I spent time in two situations where I might have been seen as a minority. I spent a year as a missionary in the Philippines, some of that time in villages where the children hadn’t met a white person before. And I spent a little over a year as a hospital chaplain in downtown Atlanta (Georgia) living in an apartment complex where my wife and I were the only white people.
In each of those settings I was never a minority.
Because I am the dominant norm of our world. Not of this city, or this state, or this country – the dominant norm of our world. I am a privileged and protected class, though I should not be, and in all places I have gone, opportunities I was given, and jobs I have worked, people handed me authority and power I didn’t have to earn.
I am a privileged and protected class.
I have gay friends. Gay friends who have changed my life for the better, expanded my perspective and taught me much of grace and love – but this doesn’t mean I know the “gay experience.”
I have come to meet and know transgender neighbors and advocates who are overflowing with human dignity and tremendous courage… but I do not know the transgender experience.
I have never experienced vulnerability on that level: I am privileged and protected.
My faith, my relationship with the God of Abraham as revealed through Jesus Christ, calls on my life to seek those who have been tossed to the margins and lift them up and love them as myself regardless of my views of their orthodoxy or purity (which none of us can claim) and in the face of whatever risk that may cause to me and my livelihood.
This is in perfect step with my civic obligation as a patriot to a country whose dream was that the dominant norm – religious, political, or social – would always protect the right and freedom of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.
My faith and my love for county, in this regard at least, see completely eye to eye. Liberty requires the limit of my freedom (my privileged and protected status) for the protection of the equal freedom for all people. For this reason I ask you to consider saying yes to passing House Bill 2 out of committee for a yes vote on the floor of the House: you are not being asked to create new legislation but to recognize the attested vulnerability of gay and transgender citizens of our state (and those who may come into it) and extend the already existing circle of care and protection to them.
Thank you Mr Chairman and members of the committee for hearing me today, I hope you consider adding the words: no more, no less.
I stand for questions.
Rev. Dr. Andrew Kukla