Ahnold signed into law this week a bill that adds sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination statutes. Naturally, the religious right is in full freak out mode over it and making absolutely hysterical claims about it. I love the way Agape Press describes the bill:
Shock and dismay — that’s how pro-family groups in California are reacting to news this morning that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill that gives homosexuals new and far-reaching powers.
The bill, SB 1441, adds sexual orientation to already existing provisions in the state’s law that prohibit discrimination on the basis of, among other things, race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color, or disability. The measure was promoted by a lesbian member of the California legislature and is now the law in that state, a fact that has filled many family advocates with outrage.
You gotta love the fact that they feel the need to say that it was promoted by a lesbian. Never mind that it was approved by a state legislature that is overwhelmingly heterosexual, it came from a lesbian and, obviously, nothing good can possibly come from a lesbian. I also love the fact that they describe the adding of sexual orientation to a list of prohibited forms of discrimination that already includes religion as “new and far-reaching powers”. It’s already illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion, protecting the same folks who are complaining about extending the same protection to others.
Do they think that the anti-discrimination laws gives them “far-reaching powers”? Highly doubtful. It gives no one any “powers” at all, it only recognizes their right not to be discriminated against by organizations using government money (the anti-discrimination provisions only effect groups that receive taxpayer funds, either directly or indirectly). The anti-gays don’t have any problem demanding that the government not discriminate against them; why do they then demand that government should discriminate against gays? Oh yeah….because they’re gay.
And the ridiculous claims don’t end there. They’re also claiming that if the government doesn’t endorse such discrimination, it takes away their right to teach their kids right from wrong. Seriously. I’m not making it up. Look:
Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), described the measure as not “even a veiled attempt at subtly advancing the radical homosexual agenda,” but “an outright, blatant assault on religious freedom.” She calls the bill “yet another attempt to prevent citizens with moral and religious principles from expressing their beliefs and educating their children according to those beliefs.”
I’ll take idiotic assertions for $1000, Alex. The bill doesn’t have anything at all to do with what beliefs they can express or what they can teach their children. If their argument was correct, then yesterday it must have been illegal to teach children that religion is bad or express such a belief because the law is precisely the same as it was yesterday, it’s just now applied to sexual orientation. Isn’t it amazing how the very same law supposedly means something completely different when it benefits someone other than them?
The religious right is making a big deal out of the fact that the bill contains no explicit exemptions for religious groups, church schools, and so forth. Now, I wholeheartedly agree with them that churches and religious groups should be exempted from most anti-discrimination legislation; free exercise of religion requires being able to put one’s religious views into practice and I don’t believe that we can constitutionally force religious groups to violate their beliefs except in the most extreme of circumstances (preventing child abuse, for example). But this statute deals with who can and can’t get government funds, not what churches or religious groups can and can’t do. They are still entirely free to engage in such discrimination, as they should be, but that doesn’t mean they should get taxpayer’s funds. It is absurd and tyrannical to tax a gay person and send that tax money to an organization that discriminates against him. So by all means, continue to discriminate. Continue to refuse to allow gays to play in your reindeer games. Just do it on your own dime, not mine.
This is the same hypocrisy we hear when they talk about “special rights”. It’s already illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion, but if someone else wants the same rights that they take for granted then they’re demanding “special rights”. The rights they already have suddenly become “special” if someone else gets them.