Ron Brown: 'Views stand the same'

Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown, the subject of recent national headlines after speaking out against an Omaha gay and transgender anti-discrimination law, won't attend a hearing Monday in which the Lincoln City Council will consider passing a similar ordinance.

But it's by no means because he regrets the public nature or vehement argument of his initial stance -- or because he has been discouraged by coaches or administrators to do otherwise.

Brown, who the university has said is within his rights as a citizen to express his religious and political views publicly, says he doesn't want his appearance to make news.

"A number of fellow Christians who have been working on legislation and working on the nuts and bolts of this issue told me, 'Look, there's going to be so much media attention over you, it's going to take away from the issue,' " Brown told the Lincoln Journal Star on Saturday.

"Everything inside of me said, 'I don't want the media to stop me from going.' Then I realized it was going to be a circus, and everybody already knows how I think. My views stand the same.

"As I prayed about it, I thought it was not in the Lord's will for me to testify."

In March, when the Omaha City Council held a hearing for the measure that added local protections against discrimination for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, Brown challenged ordinance sponsor Ben Gray and other members to remember the Bible does not condone homosexuality. He told council members they would be held to "great accountability for the decision you are making."

In the aftermath of the speech, Cornhuskers athletic director Tom Osborne and university chancellor Harvey Perlman defended the right of faculty and students to voice their opinions about public events and issues.

But he was reprimanded for listing Memorial Stadium in Lincoln as his address of record in the council register. According to the Journal Star, he has apologized to Perlman for that.

"Nobody has told me at the university that I couldn't go," Brown told the newspaper on Saturday regarding the Lincoln hearing. "I've gotten assurance from the chancellor that, as a citizen, I can express my views publicly. I mean, this is almost like voting.

"I appreciate the University of Nebraska allowing me to go to the hearing if I chose to do so."

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini reiterated to the Journal Star that Brown would not be discouraged from appearing and speaking before the Lincoln council.

"Would I tell him not to go to the hearing? Absolutely not," Pelini said.

Brown, 55, heads a Christian ministry called FreedMen Nebraska, hosts a show on a statewide Christian radio network, appears on a cable-access channel in Lincoln and writes a column for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' magazine. Brown also has written books on Christian character and growth.

"The question I have for you all is, like Pontius Pilate, what are you going to do with Jesus?" Brown asked at his March appearance in Omaha. "Ultimately, if you don't have a relationship with him, and you don't really have a Bible-believing mentality, really, anything goes... At the end of the day, it matters what God thinks most."

Brown has been an assistant at Nebraska under three head coaches, starting with Osborne in 1987. He was let go when Bill Callahan replaced Frank Solich in 2004. Pelini, who took over for Callahan in 2008, rehired Brown.

"Everything inside of me wants to go to the hearing and be part of any type of issue such as this, if work permits me to do it," Brown told the Journal Star. "I could've gone."

However, "I don't want this to be about me," he said.

Brown acknowledges that he uses his position as a platform for his ministry. He sprinkles in football metaphors during his many speaking engagements and sometimes references the players he's coached.

"If people want to make implications about the football program, I can't stop that," Brown said, according to the newspaper. "I mean, think about it. If somebody wanted to look on our team web site and see that I'm a Christian, and that I represent certain Christian activities ... what am I going to do, cut that out, too?

"I'm not going to cut out everything about me. This is about the city ordinance and I'm trying to keep people (focused) on that and not on me. There are people on both sides of the equation that are trying to make the right decisions for the city."

Brown also wrote a letter to the newspaper, published in Sunday's editions, in which he said his Christian beliefs led him to express his opposition to homosexuality. The letter notes that while he is against laws that protect gay people, he would never discriminate against gay players.

"I have and will embrace every player I coach, gay or straight ... but I won't embrace a legal policy that supports a lifestyle that God calls sin," he wrote.

On Friday, Attorney General Jon Bruning issued an opinion that said Nebraska cities cannot adopt ordinances protecting people from discrimination for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender because the state's anti-discrimination laws don't extend to sexual orientation.

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler said that wouldn't deter the city from putting the proposal to a vote.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.