A crowd of at least 300 people — including three City Councilmembers and Star Trek’s Capt. Sulu — converged on Elliot Park April 17 as Soulforce’s “equality ride” swept through town to protest North Central University’s (NCU) policies against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
In anticipation of the protest — one of 18 at schools around the country — NCU issued press releases clarifying its position on both the ride and the issue of
“The Bible teaches that God’s pattern for sexual intimacy is a life-long, monogamous marriage relationship between a man and a woman,” states a release on NCU’s website. “Deviation from this pattern is sin. Because homosexuality departs from the biblical pattern it is not an acceptable lifestyle.”
Elliot Park Neighborhood Inc. (EPNI) and City Councilmember Lisa Goodman’s office offered to mediate a discussion between Soulforce and NCU, but “conditions for such a meeting were not able to be agreed upon by the two parties,” stated EPNI’s David Fields in an official statement. Doug Kress, aide to City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (Ward 7), said NCU would meet with Soulforce only if they canceled the rally.
City Councilmembers Scott Benson, Gary Schiff and Robert Lilligren — all three openly gay — were in the crowd that gathered in the southwest corner of the park, in the evening shadow of the NCU campus.
Speakers included Takei, gay NCU alumni and former student David Coleman, one of the 33 equality riders, who told the crowd that he was kicked out of school after coming out as a gay man.
The university would not comment on Coleman’s case or release his records but stated that it “does not summarily expel students who reveal that they have same- sex attraction.” A press release also stated that NCU “does not tolerate ‘gay-bashing’ or abusive acts on our campus.”