A Christian student senator at the University of California, Berkeley, is refusing to back down from her beliefs about marriage and sexuality even as she continues to weather intense backlash from her fellow students and others.
Isabella Chow, a senator with the Associated Students of the University of California, has faced withering criticism after abstaining from a vote on a student government bill that symbolically opposed the Trump administration’s proposed changes to Title IX regarding the scientific definition of sex. Chow said she could not support the bill, The Daily Californian reported, “because she believes that God created man and woman, and that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.”
In a phone interview, Chow stood by her position and her faith while simultaneously professing love and support towards all individuals, including LGBT students.
“From the bottom of my heart I was remembering my statements from last week and really being challenged to stand by what I said about loving others unconditionally no matter how they treat me and the Christian community, just like Jesus did,” Chow said.
Chow has faced intense backlash over her position, with numerous individuals slamming her on social media (one commenter on Facebook called Chow a “mental imbecile”) as well as in person. The response has been so hostile that Chow has made changes to how she gets around campus. “I don’t feel safe walking alone to class and take precautions not to walk alone at night,” Chow said.
Chow provided multiple Internet postings openly accusing her of bigotry and hatred. One, from student senator Teddy Lake, said that Chow’s Christian beliefs “were not beliefs at all— they were hateful prejudices that deserve nothing less than the strongest condemnation.”
The editors of The Daily Californian published an editorial calling for Chow’s resignation, accusing her of “publicly dismissing the identities of individuals on campus” and “eras[ing] and dehuman[izing]” numerous Berkeley students.
In addition, Chow’s political party, Student Action, also announced on Facebook that it was “part[ing] ways” with Chow “due to inconsistencies between her beliefs and the mission of Student Action.” “I condemn Isabella Chow’s words, not because they’re different from mine, but because they are dangerous, and inherently prejudiced. I encourage Senator Chow to reach a dialogue with queer-affirming Christian communities that LGBT existence is compatible with the love of God,” one student said.
Another attendee said to Chow: “Your Christian morals should not be in our student government or for any government; and if you cannot separate your religion from your job as a senator, please resign.”
Chow eventually approached The Daily Californian asking if the publication would run either a statement or an op-ed by her. The Daily refused to publish either.
Chow subsequently published her statement on Facebook. “For me, to love another person does not mean that I silently concur when, at the bottom of my heart, I do not believe that your choices are right or the best for you as an individual,” Chow wrote.
“Where this bill crosses the line for me is that I am asked to promote a choice of identities that I do not agree to be right or best for an individual, and to promote certain organizations that uphold values contrary to those of my community. After lengthy conversations with many of my community leaders and advisors, I have chosen to abstain from voting on these bills tonight,” the statement continues.