It’s no surprise that the National Organization of Marriage believes their right to hate and discriminate supersedes anyone’s right to happiness. It is somewhat surprising, however, when a politician actually stands up to their bully tactics.
Colorado’s Sen. Pat Steadman (D), a co-sponsor of the State’s Civil Union bill, did exactly that when he argued that religion should not be a basis for discrimination. From Raw Story (emphasis added):
“Don’t claim religion as a reason the law should discriminate,” state Sen. Pat Steadman (D) said earlier this month. “We have laws against discrimination. Discrimination is banned in employment, and housing, and public accommodations, and so bakeries that serve the public aren’t supposed to look down their noses at one particular class of persons and say ‘we don’t sell cakes to you.’ It’s troubling, this discrimination. And it’s already illegal.”
“So, what to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate?” the Colorado lawmaker continued. “I’ll tell you what I’d say: ‘Get thee to a nunnery!’ And live there then. Go live a monastic life away from modern society, away from people you can’t see as equals to yourself. Away from the stream of commerce where you may have to serve them or employ them or rent banquet halls to them.”
“Go some place and be as judgmental as you like. Go inside your church, establish separate water fountains in there if you want, but don’t claim that free exercise of religion requires the state of Colorado to establish separate water fountains for her citizens. That’s not what we’re doing here.”
Here’s the video:
The bill passed the Senate and it’s likely to pass the House and it will most likely be signed into law by the state’s Democratic Governor.
Of course, the National Organization of Marriage (NOM) is taking none of this sitting down. The organization, which is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that “(Steadman) argues that any person of faith with pro-marriage views should be forced to violate their conscience if they choose to continue operating their business (flower shops, bakeries, restaurants, photographers, banquet halls, etc) after the passage of same-sex civil unions. (He’s right about one thing – this civil unions bill poses a grave threat to religious freedom!)”
On another page they say,
Civil unions aren’t a compromise . . . they’re a Trojan horse that immediately attacks both marriage and religious liberty.
To make matters even worse, for Senator Steadman religious liberty isn’t simply a regrettable casualty in the march for same-sex marriage . . . attacking religious liberty is part of the point!
Gay marriage strategists know that people of faith — people like you and me — are one of the biggest obstacles to a state-imposed same-sex marriage regime. And many of them would like nothing better than to muzzle, isolate, and ultimately silence religious believers — using intimidation and ostracism to closet Biblical views about marriage.”
In one small way, most equality advocates would agree with NOM. Civil unions are not a compromise. They are better than no marriage equality, but they are still not marriage.
They are also right in that businesses, such as wedding planners, would not be able to discriminate based on their faith, but there’s nothing new about that. Until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, it was legal for businesses to discriminate against people of color, often justifying it with their religious beliefs.
The United States does not currently have such protections for the LGBT community, but Colorado does. Even without the civil union law, it is illegal for businesses who serve the public in Colorado to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Of course, the law would not extend to religious organizations. If a church does not wish to perform a ceremony or recognize a bond, that is their right.
That’s not to say that everything will be easy once the law passes. Even with laws, discrimination is a hard habit to break. Just ask the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, CO, who last year said he would rather close his doors than bake a cake for a gay couple. Despite the national press and boycotts, the store claimed that their anti-gay stance actually helped business boom.
As any African-American can attest, there is a long road between legal liberties and full equality. We can only hope that in Colorado, politicians such as Steadman will help propel the state into not just legal equality, but full acceptance.
|Wendy Gittleson grew up in a political family. Her passion is for social justice and fairness. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. She lives in a union household. In her rare downtime, you’ll find her hiking or exploring the shoreline with her dogs. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson|