When the Palo Alto, California, city council placed Measure B on the November 3 ballot, the city’s homosexuals found support in places they probably hadn’t counted on: the churches.
Measure B sought to outlaw discrimination against homosexuals in housing, employment, union membership, and public services. In what may be considered a rather bold political stance, Mayor Alan Henderson openly supported the measure.
But in a just as bold, and probably more unusual, stance were the city’s religious leaders. More than half the congregational leaders of the city’s 50 churches expressed their support of the proposed ordinance. The most vocal and organized proponents were the 30-member Palo Alto Ministerial Association and the 15-member Ecumenical Outreach Coalition.
“Members of the ministerial association support the measure not because they support homosexuality per se, but because they support fair play and justice for all people,” said Donald Mason of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
“In cases such as civil rights, church leaders need to speak out in one voice,” said Jim Burklo of the First Congregational Church.
“Not to do so would default our responsibility as religious leaders of the community,” added Harold Bjornson, pastor emeritus of the First Baptist Church.
If seemed Measure B would have an easy victory. By election day, supporters had spent more than $25,000, and opponents had spent less than $500.
Also behind the measure was the very nature of the people of Palo Alto. They pride themselves in being liberal: most of the city’s almost 55,000 citizens are white, upper-middle class, and educated. They share their city with the prestigious Stanford University, and they ...1
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