NU reprimands Husker coach for comments at LGBT hearing


March 8th, 2012

Omaha, NE – The Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has reprimanded Assistant Husker Football Coach Ron Brown for comments he made at a public hearing in Omaha this week.

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Ron Brown, an assistant Husker football coach, said a proposed ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation contradicts Christian principles. (Photo courtesy NU Media Relations)

Brown made his comments at a hearing before the Omaha City Council on Tuesday, which was set to debate a controversial ordinance that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Brown testified against the ordinance, saying it contradicts Christian principles.

Those on the council who “have a relationship with Christ” will be “held to great accountability” for the decision they make, Brown said.

In a letter to be published in the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Daily Nebraskan, UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman reprimanded Brown for not making clear that his statements did not reflect the values of the University.

Ron Brown was among dozens who testified at a public hearing before the Omaha City Council Tuesday. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

In his letter, Perlman said “The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska has made it clear that the university does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. And only the board can speak on university policy and practices.”

Perlman said he’d received several letters after Brown’s statements, asking if they represent University position. “I want to be clear they do not,” he said.

The Omaha City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance next week.

Harvey Perlman’s letter in full, provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:


The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska has made it clear that the university does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. And only the board can speak on university policy and practices. Recently Ron Brown, a Nebraska football coach, talked before the Omaha City Council in opposition to an ordinance that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Several people have written me asking if his remarks represent the position of the university. I want to be clear that they do not. The university defends the right of its faculty and students to participate in public dialogue and to express their personal views. I understand that there were also faculty and students from the university who testified in favor of the ordinance.

We do ask individuals associated with the university to make it clear in their public statements that they are speaking only as an individual, and not on behalf of the university. Unfortunately in this instance Coach Brown did not make it clear in his comments that he was asserting his personal viewpoint and not representing the university. I have asked him to make that clarification explicitly in the future.

Harvey Perlman, chancellor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Hundreds pack city hall for gay rights hearing

45 Responses

  1. Vic says:

    as my dad used to say, Ron is a little touched

    • SAM says:

      Agree-you would think a minority would support the minority rights of others at the very least.
      Sometimes I think Nebraska is still in the 19th century.

  2. Jeff says:

    I don’t know where in his comments Ron Brown advocated discrimination against anyone. I believe he was against granting special privileges to a minority group. I think most thinking people are against that.

  3. Peter says:

    I agree with Ron Brown!

  4. Gene Nelson says:

    I think Harvey and the board should go back to their sand box. They don’t do anything important anyway.

  5. Craig Mann says:

    Did Perlman also reprimand UNL employees who spoke in favor of the ordinance that did not state that their “statements did not reflect the values of the University”?

  6. Bonnie Guy says:

    I respect Mr. Brown’s personal stance on whether homosexuality is a sin or not. Although I appreciate that he is a sincere and principled man, I, also a Christian, do not agree with his position.

    Regardless – whether we disagree on that, to me, seems irrelevant here. If God does think homosexuality is a sin, it’s certainly not on the top of His list. Serving – or failing to serve – the poor appears to be His top priority (with roughly 2000 verses in the Bible addressing that), greed is a biggie, even divorce comes in way ahead of any mention, specifically from Jesus, of homosexuality. If we follow Mr. Brown’s logic then, should we not discriminate against divorced people, make it hard or impossible for them to get housing, education, work, and so forth?

    What Jesus did say was for us to love our neighbors, which is one of the two great commandments, even to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us, to judge not lest we be judged, to cast the first stone when we are without sin. So if opposing this bill paves the way for us to discriminate against gay people in hiring practices or rental policies or other such basic rights we have all come to take as a given, then I would say THAT is what is against God’s law and the standard to which we will all be held greatly accountable. Really?? Will we prevent people from getting an education because they are gay? Will we prevent them from earning a living from decent hard work because they are gay? How about medical care – will we get to the point that we deny that to someone who is gay? I’m sorry Mr. Brown, and those who agree with him, but if you think that’s what Christian values are, you and I must not be reading the same Bible. Maybe we could get together for coffee or something and compare our versions to see if indeed they have the same chapters and pages and verses.

    Aside from that is the matter of religious freedom, and not all religions or even people within the same religion (see above) believe gay people are sinners or sub-human creatures that God wants to harm or punish. That’s the constitution. We make, and have the right to make, personal decisions based on a reading of whatever our holy books are, or on the basis of a human moral code if we do not claim a religion, but we do not make laws based on the dictates of one group’s holy readings. We are a democracy not a theocracy.

    Respectfully, Bonnie Guy, UNL alumnus, Boone, NC

    • Tim says:

      Thank you Bonnie Guy for you poignant message and thank you Harvey Perlman for speaking out against discrimination!!

    • Ruben E. Sandoval, MD says:

      I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Guy’s excellent letter: our founding fathers may have been religious men but understood the importance of separation of church and state. And as much as some zealots would like to believe otherwise, this country is not and was never intended to be a theocracy.

    • Mitch (Salt Lake City) says:

      I too am a Christian and although I believe that homosecuality is a sin and that God made marriage between a man and a woman (God made Eve not Evan for Adam), i also believe that it is a sin to sit in judgment of them. Hate the sin not the sinner, speak out against the action not the actor.

  7. Toby says:

    So Pearlman isn’t going to say that faculty who are in favor of the ordinance don’t represent the University?

  8. Steve Thomas says:

    This is ridiculous, Harvey! Only a dim bulb would believe that he was speaking for the university. It was obvious to everyone there that he was speaking as a private citizen…which he can do as a citizen of the USA.

    • Mitty says:

      The only thing in the news will be Ron Brown, Husker coach speaks out. If Ron Brown wants the salary and respect that comes with a high profile position (like football coach) he knows that comes with other responsibilities. Perlman isn’t scolding him as a citizen. He is scolding him as an employee.

      • Scott Miracle says:

        I disagree. The man in no way was speaking for the university. He never claimed to and he didn’t say that he was in favor or discriminating against anyone. He said he was against granting special protection to a minority group that is already protected by law. I don’t see anyone else being reprimanded for speaking in favor of the legislation.This man has as much right to speak his mind as a citizen of Nebraska as any other and should be provided the opportunity (and protection) to do so without reprimand.

  9. Andy says:

    Good job Ron! I am glad that I root for a team that has a coach that is not afraid to stand up for Christian values. I am saddened that the university feels that they have to reprimand you for this.

    • Jon says:

      I am not proud that I am a fan of a team that has a couch that supports discrimination. You can stand up for Christian values without believing that it is right to discriminate. It is not a “Christian value” to believe that discrimination is right against people and their beliefs that conflict with their, specific, Christian beliefs. It is unfortunate and it is sad. Most LGBT people and their families are Christian in Omaha and most people believe that LGBT have the right to not be discriminated against (at the very least). All that the ordinance does is say that people that are LGBT cannot be fired for being LGBT. Christian values are protected by the same protections that are now protecting LGBT citizens in Omaha. Now, 36 of the top cities in the United States support non-discrimination and it is almost certain that at least 5 more will have similar ordinances within the next year.

      Thank you Ben Gray and the Omaha city council for voting for what is right.

  10. Bob says:

    Ron Brown needs to shut his mouth. Do all of these Christians really think that Jesus was this judgmental?

  11. Matt says:

    I have lost a lot of respect for Coach Brown through this. It is hypocritical of him to speak against discrimination. If one of his players came to him and informed him they were gay, would he speak out against them? Cut them from the team? Treat them differently than the rest of the players? I think not. If he did, he would be dismissed from the staff. Stick to football, coach.

    • Scott Miracle says:

      He did not speak out against anything except legislation that provides special protection to a minority group that is already protected by state statutes. He has the same rights as any other citizen to voice his concerns and should be allowed to do so without reprimand.

      • Greg Bright says:

        The don’t have the special protection right now Scott. If someone is gay, they can get fired, just for being gay, no questions asked. All this bill is trying to do is keep gays from being discriminated against just for being gay, something the state has NOT done..In no way would this law have any effect on any christians being able to worship Jesus. There is even wording that makes an exception for religious institutions! So, in the end, all Ron Brown was doing was trying to keep gays from getting equal rights. In my mind, and in the dictionary, that is the definition of discrimination.

      • Jon says:

        It isn’t special protection. It is identical to the racial protections that Brown receives.

  12. Matt says:

    Pardon me – hypocritical to speak out against discrimination.

  13. robert says:

    Reprimand? Where’s the reprimand?

    Looks more like a clarification, an angry one even. But without consequence to Ron Brown, it’s hardly a reprimand.

    Using charged words gives your opponents openings. They should teach that in journalism school.

  14. David King says:

    Of course, Chancellor Perlman says nothing about making sure the people in favor of this particular ordinance also are clear to inform others that their position also does not represent the University.
    Naturally, he says nothing about that. Chancellor Perlman, thanks for the lesson in hypocrisy, or is a tolerance that only works against those of the Christian faith.

    • Scott Miracle says:

      A very good point – I agree.

      • Greg Bright says:

        No, a terrible point. For one thing, only two other UNL faculty members spoke at the hearing, and neither of them put a University address done as their place of residence. No one thought they were speaking in for the University because they didn’t tell anyone that they even were employed by the University.

      • Jon says:

        Actually, since the official UNL position is one that is anti-discrimination, (which most educated institutions support, because it’s the right thing to do) there would be no point to state that support isn’t the official position.

        Faith is an invalid argument. There is a protection for freedoms of religious choice and not every Christian religion is anti-LGBT. Methodists, Unitarians, and many others are pro-gay rights.

  15. John Lindsteadt says:

    Coach Brown,
    Thank you for your values, your service to the University, and all the young men you have influenced.
    The Chancellor did not “reprimand” Mr. Brown for his views and comments, but they just didn’t represent the official views of the university.
    If they only did, we’d be a lot better off.
    Coach Brown, best wishes.

  16. Shut It says:

    I hate it when these whacko religious zealots use the Bible to justify their own hatred and discrimination towards homosexuals. Like Lady Gaga I believe they are “born this way,” so why would God make a mistake when creating souls. (After all, most Catholic priests are gay) Hypothetically, even if it was a sin, I believe that Jesus would not want people to discriminate against each other regardless of their sins. In the end, judgement is up to God, not man. Ron, shut your F’n mouth and concentrate on football.

  17. Mike says:

    Hey, Ron Brown … Those who yell the loudest usually have the most to hide. What are you hiding??????

  18. Scott Miracle says:

    The man in no way was speaking for the university. He never claimed to and he didn’t say that he was in favor or discriminating against anyone. He said he was against granting special protection to a minority group that is already protected by law. I don’t see anyone else being reprimanded for speaking in favor of the legislation.This man has as much right to speak his mind as a citizen of Nebraska as any other and should be provided the opportunity (and protection) to do so without reprimand. Discrimination goes both ways. I see no legislation being considered to protect Christians and our beliefs.

  19. SAM says:

    I had no idea there were so many bigots in Nebraska
    This is the 21st century,or did it pass over Nebraska.

  20. SAM says:

    Take a civics class – religious freedom is in the constitution

  21. Rod says:

    Ron Brown is an embarrassment to the university and state. He needs to take his extremist dog and pony show somewhere else. I’m tired of it.

  22. Steve says:

    Thank you Ron for your courage. We Christians need to pray vigorously for Ron and his entire family. I’ve seen first hand when people take this kind of stand. Those liberal bastions of tolerance respond with personal attacks, character assasination and physical threats and intimidation. Ron and his family will now be attacked and harrased on and off the job. Hang in there Ron.

    • Rod says:

      It doesn’t take courage for a christian in America to blast gays. Pathetic.

      • Jon says:

        Steve, you are making a personal and over general attack on all LGBT and liberal people when you say “liberal bastions of tolerance” and “respond with personal attacks, character assassination and physical threats and intimidation”.

        Some may, most don’t. What you just did is what many conservative AND pro-discrimination people did at the hearing. They attacked an entire group of people for what one or two of the MILLIONS have done, in order to paint a false picture of that group of people. It was also said that the LGBT people at the hearing were very well mannered and educated, but that they were the minority of the population. THAT ISN’T true either. Many people on your side of the line argued with opinions, many people on our side argued with facts. We talked about how devastating discrimination is, you talked about how you are justified to discriminate. NOT YOU, people like you. People that believe that it is o.k. to discriminate so long as it is not against themselves.

        • Jon says:

          I also think it is offensive for one group of people to think that they own the right to say what being “conservative” and “Christian” are. You’re ignorant if you don’t think that there are gay, christian, conservatives, because they believe in gay, Christian, and conservative values.

  23. John says:

    I continue to be unhappy about the overt displays of religion exhibited by Ron Brown. He is certainly entitled to his personal opinion, but I don’t believe it is appropriate that an employee of a public, secular institution Behave as he does. A persons religious beliefs Should be a private matter. I can’t help thinking that there are members of the football team made uncomfortable by his extreme stance.

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