On August 13, members of the Springfield City, Mo. City Council held a public hearing on whether to amend the city’s anti-discrimination ordinances to protect sexual orientation and gender identity.
One of the speakers was Dr. Phil Snider, a pastor at the local Brentwood Christian Church. In the below video from the meeting, Rev. Snider steps to the podium to deliver what, at first, sounds like anti-gay tirade. He begins by saying, “man, in overstepping the boundary lines God has drawn by making special rights for gays and lesbians, has taken another step in the direction of inviting the judgement of God upon our land.”
Snider continues to say that giving LGBT individuals additional legal protections will cause unrest in the community. “When you run into conflict with God’s established order, you have trouble,” he says. “You do not produce harmony. You produce destruction and trouble, and our city is in the greatest danger it’s ever been in its history.”
However after a few more lines, Rev. Snider pauses and reveals that his speech was made up of quotes from white, pro-segregation preachers from the 1950s and 60s . He just replaced the term “racial integration” with “gay rights”—supporting the view of many that gay rights is really the civil rights issue of our time. Snider concludes by telling the audience, “I hope you will not make the same mistake [as people who were against integration]. I hope you will stand on the right side of history.”
Over the weekend, websites such as BuzzFeed and Gawker posted the two-month old video, and it has now been viewed over 2.5 million times. Today, Rev. Snider responded to the overwhelming amount of feedback on his blog. He said:
I’m really heartened by all of the emails, Facebook messages, and kind words that I’ve received over the last 24 hours. As I read each one, I don’t see them simply as messages that seek to affirm a particular talk I gave on a particular night in Springfield, MO (as grateful as I am for such affirmations), but rather, I view them as a reflection of the thousands - indeed, the millions - of people who, on a daily basis, are journeying together because we believe that our world can be a better place, a fairer place, a more beautiful place - for all people and not just for some - and we won’t stop calling for a more beautiful world to be born.
This is not the first time a local figure’s pro-gay rights speech has gone viral. Who can forget when the then 19-year-0ld Zach Wahls defended his two mothers on the floor of the Iowa State House? Or when Republican state lawmaker Maureen Walsh delivered emotional testimony about her relationship with her lesbian daughter?
The national dialogue on marriage equality will surely not subside any time soon, as the issue will be on the ballot in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington come November 6.