Simply knowing that Kelly Frieders is a stay-at-home mother of triplets who is active at her church--and is a registered Republican--might lead some to make assumptions about her stand on homosexuality. But the 37-year-old serves on the faith and steering committees of Arizona Together, a coalition that was formed to oppose the proposed state initiative to constitutionally ban gay nuptials and prevent legal recognition of other couplings outside of marriage. Frieders also writes about her faith, politics and love of Star Wars on the Bad Methodist blog at bad-methodist.blogspot.com. The Weekly recently sat down with her at her home in Sahuarita.

Why do you oppose the initiative?

I have a lot of problems with it. I don't think that the government should be in the business of dictating to people how to live their private lives. ... I think there are a lot of rights and responsibilities that married couples have that same-sex couples don't have--really simple things, like hospital visitation, rights of survivorship with houses, bereavement leave, family medical leave (and) health insurance.

Of course, the Republican Party isn't a monolith, but how do you feel about its general stance on gay issues?

It frustrates me, because to me--I'm like a Goldwater Republican--being a Republican is about less government and more personal responsibility, but not social issues. I don't understand where a state amendment that takes away from local governments' ability to make decisions is a conservative concept.

What motivated you to take the next step and join an organization fighting this initiative?

You know, it comes from my faith, actually. As a Christian, I really believe in being a voice out there. ... It started for me in 1998 when Matthew Shepard was murdered--not so much his murder itself, because there are all kinds of horrific violence out there. What really got me was the Christian response. So much of it was, "Oh, yes, it's very bad, but ... ." And I just wanted to pull my hair out. No "but!" You know, even if you think same-sex relationships are sinful, that is not even in the same neighborhood as a brutal murder. And then a couple years after that in Tucson, there was this college student who was stabbed on Fourth Avenue, and the guy who stabbed him said, "Jesus hates fags." And that just horrified me, because that is so against everything I believe. It just made me say, "You know, I gotta stand up and say this is not what Jesus is about, this is not what God is about."

Did you always have gay friends, and that's why you got involved?

No, actually--not at all. It more was my outrage at what was going on with Matthew Shepard and the local Tucson stories. I met people through that, so I know people now.

How has your faith impacted your views on homosexuality?

I think that Jesus really never mentioned same-sex relationships at all. ... He talked a lot about justice and mercy. ... And he was accused of hanging out with sinners. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors who were really hated in Israel at the time. Really, the only words in anger that he ever had were against the religious elite--people who would put on a big show, but not be merciful and not treat people well. He talked a lot about that. So to me, that's what this issue is about. It's about not telling other people, "I'm so much better than you." We're all sinners.

Do you think homosexuality is a sin?

No, I don't. I used to. I was a lot more conservative than I am now. And I was really kind of back and forth on that. I read some stuff on both sides, and I really didn't know what I thought. ... But, like I said, when the Matthew Shepard thing happened, and the other stabbing here in Tucson (happened), I just felt that I didn't care what I felt about the sin; I put that aside. Civil rights needed to be worked on. So I got involved with that side of it before I had really made up my mind on what I thought of it as an issue.

What changed that?

I ended up going to--it was like a workshop in the Methodist church ... and I met all these people, some of whom were gay and some of whom were straight. But, you know, the gay people were so spirit-filled, and so I looked at that and said, "How can I say that this one aspect of their lives makes them disconnected from God?" What I was seeing in my experience didn't gel with that interpretation.

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