Chad Hussein remembers the exact moment that he knew he wanted to come out and tell friends and family members that he is gay. In February, the lifelong United Methodist Church member from Lansdale, Pennsylvania was particularly tuned into the denomination’s international conversation around LGBTQ freedom and dignity.
The UMC denomination was set to vote on whether it would honor marriages between same-sex couples and whether LGBTQ members could become members of the clergy. Chad was unsure what the outcome would be, but he hoped to see voters at last affirm an official policy welcoming and including LGBTQ people in the church.
“I live streamed the Methodist vote as much as I could,” he said. “And when they finally voted to uphold their policy of exclusion, it felt like a shot to the gut. That vote was really devastating to me and friends that I hold dear. It meant that as a gay male, I could not have the opportunity to be ordained as a minister. I would never be allowed to partake in holy marriage with my partner. In the eyes of the UMC, I could never be true to who I am and be allowed to fall in love”
Although the vote was devastating for Chad, it was also motivating: That week, he came out to friends, and since then, he’s shared with loved ones that he is gay. He felt that without social pressure, votes like the UMC’s decision would continue to happen, and he does not want to stand by while they do. He knows that groups are sometimes hesitant to change their minds on LGBTQ acceptance and understanding until they personally meet members who are out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
That’s partly why Chad is speaking out with Conservatives Against Discrimination: He is a conservative and wants his fellow members of the Republican Party to understand that LGBTQ people are not an ideological monolith.
“I view Conservative as meaning that each individual is free to be who they want to be,” Chad said. “I believe in individual freedom. I identify as a fiscal conservative and cringe at the idea of big government telling me how to live my life.”
Conservatives Against Discrimination is a program of Freedom for All Americans dedicated to elevating the voices of conservative Americans who support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. The truth is that conservative support for ending discrimination against LGBTQ people is growing nationwide, with a strong majority of conservatives believing that every American should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living, and provide for their families.
Chad said that his roots as a conservative date back to the 2000s, when he first heard President George W. Bush talk about ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ as a strategy for improving the general welfare of society. “We can solve big problems by people being able to take more time to take care of themselves and each other,” Chad said. “ This does not have to be strictly through big bureaucratic government programs. We can strive to be whatever we want to be while being caring for our fellow men.”
For Chad, he sees a direct tie between the desire to improve society as a whole and his personal support for protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.
“The Preamble to the Constitution talks about promoting the general welfare,” he said. “And isn’t being able to go to a workplace and not having your sexual orientation or gender identity used against you the epitome of promoting the general welfare? The Constitution that we espouse – especially hardline conservatives – needs to focus on how we promote the general welfare to people.”
Chad is part of the growing majority of conservatives who supports LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. And he’s seeing that LGBTQ support as an increasingly important part of what he looks for in a political candidate.
“The Preamble to the Constitution talks about promoting the general welfare. And isn’t being able to go to a workplace and not having your sexual orientation or gender identity used against you the epitome of promoting the general welfare? The Constitution that we espouse – especially hardline conservatives – needs to focus on how we promote the general welfare to people.” – Chad Hussein
He also admires Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents Chad’s district in the United States Congress. Rep. Fitzpatrick was one of the Republican Congressmembers who voted in early 2019 in favor of the Equality Act, which would establish comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans earlier. Chad also explained that he finds inspiration in Republicans’ history of support for civil rights. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 wouldn’t have happened if Republicans hadn’t crossed the aisle and voted yes, too,” he said.
On a personal level, Chad worries that his home state of Pennsylvania doesn’t explicitly protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and that his job as a middle school teacher could be in jeopardy just because of who he is. “It breaks my heart to know that I’m vulnerable to discrimination,” he said. “It’s been a fear, and it’s something that other people take for granted. I saw on the thread of a Facebook post where someone was complaining about LGBTQ people wanting ‘special rights.’ But we’re not asking for special rights! We’re asking for the same right that anyone else gets. I want to walk down the street with my partner holding hands and have no one give a second thought to it. But you feel like you have to look behind you if you’re gay. It’s a scary feeling.”
Ultimately, Chad knows that momentum is building more powerfully than ever to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination and ensure that no one faces discrimination because of who they are or who they love. Now, he’s encouraging his fellow conservatives to join him.
“I don’t see LGBTQ dignity as a moral issue – but as a human rights issue,” he said. “Conservatives should be in the same place here. We should value life and equality for all”