As the election draws near, the right choices to represent the citizens of the First City could not be more clear. As a 30-year, combat-wounded veteran, I know well the values that Americans have fought for, but what I see from our Republican candidates for the state Legislature conflicts with those values.


I note that this last week, the GOP candidates for Kansas House District 41 and Senate District 5 both enthusiastically accepted the endorsement of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas. While that organization’s goals sound noble enough, promoting "a Kansas and a nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished," the fact is that the FPAK has aggressively fought against LGBTQ rights, the rights of women to make their own medical choices and the poor. It would appear that for them, only some lives should be cherished.


Our country may have been founded by men who had limited views on equality and freedom, but as written, the Constitution still argues that all are endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nowhere did the Constitution suggest such rights were only for the pursuit of Christian happiness. Today most Americans, indeed most people around the globe, recognize the universality of human rights. Yet Christian happiness, at the expense of everyone else, is what the FPAK promotes, and apparently what the GOP accepts, as they unite together against the LGBTQ community’s right to marry, work and even live in the places they choose.


They have even fought against basic legislation designed to protect LGBTQ persons from bullying and harassment. I don’t question the rights of others to believe in biblical teachings, but I do object when those beliefs take on the power of law and trample on the dignity and constitutional rights of others.


That is why I am a member of Equality Kansas, which fights to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and ensures equal protection under the law.


Though I have been a registered Republican since I turned 18, I stand against bigotry of any kind and am especially concerned about the pervasive and open discrimination still suffered by the LGBTQ community. And so, I cannot support the agenda of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas and their preferred candidates from the GOP. The residents of our fair city deserve far better.


What Leavenworth deserves is the inclusive representation offered by Joana Scholz, Mike Griswold and Jeff Pittman. All three candidates are already exemplars of community service and are clearly the representation this city needs and deserves in state government. I am certain that each will faithfully promote the interests of our community and all of its members, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. My sincere hope is that under their leadership, the state of Kansas will finally end legalized discrimination, extend the protection of inalienable rights and uphold the dignity of the LGBTQ community statewide.