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A legislator’s daughter called him out for endorsing an anti-LGBT bill, so he apologized

Kansas state Rep. Ron Highland (R) speaks with colleagues on Friday in Topeka. (Thad Allton/AP)

A Republican lawmaker from Kansas has apologized and removed his name from a piece of highly contentious anti-LBGTQ legislation after his daughter wrote an open letter, publicly shaming him for sponsoring it.

Christel Highland, the daughter of State Rep. Ron Highland (R), wrote the open letter to her father on Facebook this week, asking him why he would “openly attempt at policy that elevates hate and hurts my family or friends.”

Soon after, the legislator admitted that endorsing the bill “was a mistake.”

“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. I have asked for my name to be removed from the bill. The process for doing so is in motion,” Ron Highland said in a statement to the Wamego Times, according to the Mercury.

Highland could not be reached for comment.

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The recent controversy surrounds House Bill 2320 — which aims to have same-sex marriages deemed “parody marriages” and allow the state to deny them.

The bill defines “parody marriages” as:

“Parody marriage” means any form of alleged marriage that does not involve a man and a woman. The term “parody marriage” refers to a variety of so-called marriages that do not involve a man and a woman that amount to doctrines that are inseparably linked to the religion of secular humanism. 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.

It appears to be seeking to stop them:

The state shall no longer be in the parody marriage funding and endorsement business and shall disentangle itself from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) secular humanist church pursuant to this section and the establishment clause of the 1st amendment of the constitution of the United States. The state shall not, through any government action create, enforce or respect any LGBTQ or any other secular humanist policy whether directly or symbolically. The state shall maintain the separation of church and state, which includes separating itself from the non-institutionalized religions such as secular humanism, expressive individualism and postmodern western individualistic moral relativism.

Christel Highland, who described herself on Facebook as “a proud member of Kansas City’s LGBTQ+ community, a Mother, a Partner to the love of my life, an Artist active in my creative community, and a hard-working Businessperson,” said in a post that she was “personally offended by the egregious nature of Kansas Representatives’ proposed legislation, most notably, my father’s.”

She told her father in the letter Wednesday that “this moment presents an opportunity for you to set a principled example to your colleagues and constituents.”

“Your most sacred job as an elected official is to serve and protect people,” she wrote. “Your God did not elect you, living, breathing humans beings did. Further isolating the marginalized among the population you serve is far from your duty.

“Hate has no place in public policy. I respectfully request an apology on behalf on my family and beloved friends that this cruel attempt at legislation impacts — viable or not — and I beg that you show yourself to be the honorable man I’ve always known you to be. Ultimately, what is right can never be something that hurts another. You taught me that.”

“I love you, I always will, in spite of your flaws,” Christel Highland told her father. Then she added: “I cannot, however, condone your cruel actions. Shame on you.”

Christel Highland said in a statement Saturday to The Washington Post that she wrote the letter “because I had friends in Kansas whom I knew were reeling from yet another attempt to legislate hate.”

“I wrote that letter from a place of exhaustion as a result of our divisive political climate,” she said. “The overwhelmingly positive response to my message shows that I am not alone in my longing for kindness, respect, and acceptance to return to our policy-making process.”

Following her father’s public apology, she said that she was proud of him “for setting an excellent example.”

“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 said in the statement. “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.”

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