We have been writing about Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown and his testimony against an anti-discrimination ordinance in Omaha that would protect LGBT people. Brown continued his homophobic assault even when the city council upheld the ordinance on a 4-3 vote.
The Omaha Herald ran a letter against Brown's actions written by John F. Carroll, an attorney and season ticket holder who is gay. It's an awesome letter -- sent to Athletic Director Tom Osborne and Coach Bo Pelini -- and deserves your attention for taking on Brown so effectively, calling him a "religious bully":
Coach Osborne and Coach Pelini:
My name is John F. Carroll. I am a season ticket holder of four seats in the North End Zone. Yesterday, I witnessed a depressing moment. Coach Brown drove to Omaha, from Lincoln where he lives, to speak out against the City of Omaha's proposed ordinance protecting gays and gender identity.
He started his statement with, “Hi, my name is Ron Brown. I live in One Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE. That's not really my home but it is where I spend most of my time.”
As a gay Christian (that bleeds all things Big Red), and a long time season ticket holder that comes with a $1,000 dollar donation each year, I really felt betrayed by Coach Brown's comments. I am no stranger to this type of rhetoric. I was shocked to hear Coach Brown tie Memorial Stadium to his anti-gay statements.
I am a licensed registered nurse and an attorney. I say grace with every meal. I pray daily for those in need. I have dealt with homophobia since I was kid. I was bullied throughout school. In my twenties, I was fired from a job and kicked out of an apartment because I was gay. In my thirties, I was the victim of a hate crime and I was outed on the television show Survivor. Now in my 40s, I still hear the anti-gay rhetoric throughout my beloved state.
I am all for free speech. There are limits when a representative like Coach Brown who is associated with the University exercises his first amendment rights and states that his address is Memorial Stadium. I get that it was an attempt at humor; I can assure you that many gay and straight husker fans did not find it funny.
As you are aware, the University is comprised of all types of various colors, genders, ages, religions, and yes, people of different sexual orientations and gender identities. While Coach Brown's fight for his civil rights, is waning, the rights of gays and lesbians are far from secure. To hear Coach Brown, a representative of the University of Nebraska, use God and Jesus to argue against providing gays and lesbians protection from people that would harm them in the work place is beyond the pale. It makes me wonder what would happen if one of the football players came out. Would he bench them? Would he recommend kicking them off the team? I know former players that are gay. Has the University ever once asked them what it was like hiding in plain sight?
With all that young gay kids are facing today, having Coach Brown stand up in a public forum and call them sinners, made me sick to my stomach. I have not been this angry about this issue in a very long time. I know there are plenty of people in the athletic department that embrace diversity and tolerance, the kind that includes gays, but that doesn't mitigate the affect that Coach Brown's comments could have on the program.
Mr. Brown's veiled threat was particularly galling, "The question I have for you, like Pontius Pilate, is: 'What are you going to do with Jesus?' For those of you on this council who have a relationship with Christ, and only you know if you do, you will be held to great accountability for the decision you make."
Coach Brown is a religious bully and has a history of using the University as his pulpit all the while disguising it as “motivational speaking.” No one can deny the impact that Coach Brown has had on young men from tough backgrounds. However, that cannot come at the expense of other kids, namely gay and transgendered kids.
The hypocrisy is that if Coach Brown worked in Omaha today, he could never be fired from his job on the basis of his race, gender or religious affiliation. He could be if he was gay or his boss found out he used to be a woman.
If Mr. Brown insists on exercising his first amendment rights all the while spewing anti-gay rhetoric and threats of eternal damnation, please have him use his own address in the future. We should never hear in a public forum the words Memorial Stadium and sinner in the same speech.
Thank you for your time.
GO BIG RED!
John F. Carroll
The Herald has Osborne's reply and Carroll's follow-up. A big cheer for John Carroll for reminding the world that we are everywhere and will not be silent.